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The Joy of being Hearing Impaired 2011-12-04 07:35:28

Don't really have anything technical to talk about since not a whole lot has been done. I guess I could start talking about life experiences during these slow periods though...

So today my mother was talking about how little sound proofing there seems to be in our house. Apparently guests have complained about being able to clearly hear people talking inside the guest bedroom. My father and I go up into the bedroom to observe for ourselves. My conclusion, of course was that you can't hear the thing. This is the absolute joy that hearing impairment has brought to me.

Just like glasses correct impaired vision, my hearing aids correct impaired hearing. In theory, with them in, I should be able to hear as well as anyone else. But I choose not to wear them all the time. The reason is simple, I can't hear annoying sounds. Papers shuffling, the click of my keyboard, the fans in my computer, the 60hz hum of a TV, the barking of the neighbors dogs, and the music at most public buildings just to name a few.

Every time I hear my mother complain about some annoying sound I think about how wonderful it is to actually be hearing impaired. If you don't like something you see, you can close your eyes, but for some reason we don't have any means to close our ears. Naturally anyways.

Being hearing impaired is very similar to having impaired vision. For vision it's well understood that, without corrective instruments, impaired vision is blurry or out of focus. Much the same thing can be said about hearing impairment. This is because hearing impairment only applies to certain frequencies. To demonstrate what it's like all you have to do is take an equalizer on a media player and turn down certain frequencies. Hearing aids basically use compression to apply an inverse equalization and correct this.

It always surprises me how little people seem to understand about hearing impairments. For some reason seeing someone with glasses doesn't trigger the “he must be blind” response, but as soon as hearing aids are visible people immediately think “he must be deaf.” It actually took me many years to piece this together. Once I even had a kid ask me if I could feel sounds. I do, at times, wonder if this has any connection to why people don't generally talk to me. Of course with people immediately assuming deaf, I have been tempted to play along with it. Lets just say that on more than one occasion I have been given an implicit opportunity to opt out of something due to this assumption.

There are other advantages too. Besides just being corrective hearing instruments, hearing aids can serve as wireless head phones as well. In fact, my high school paid for device which I was able to use on occasion for this purpose. Easy way around the "no electronics" rule: keep the CD player in your book bag along with adapter and the teachers will never know! (Actually I only did this during lunch. Though it was funny the one time I was carrying said adapter and a teacher, thinking it was an iPod, tried to confiscate it. Of course after telling her it was property of the school I was let go.) Also, how else are you going to eavesdrop on the conversation teachers have in the hallway?


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