by Laine Waggoner, MA, MS 


Most hearing people have not been exposed to information about the challenges of hearing loss.  If you do not experience hearing loss personally, you need great empathy for the frustrations faced by hard of hearing people on a daily basis. You also need enhanced communication skills to assist your clients (and/or their family members) to become more competent, improve their self-image and have a satisfying and productive lifestyle in the mainstream of the hearing world.

What you need to learn: You must learn how to recognize the signs of hearing loss and its varied physical and emotional symptoms. Your communication style must work toward achieving greater understanding and enhancing interpersonal relationships.

Major issues: Among the major issues faced by the hard of hearing  are grief over the hearing loss, low self-esteem, stress and the resulting fatigue, depression, loss of intimacy, withdrawal, social isolation and possibly chemical dependency.

  • Few hearing people understand that for those of us with loss of hearing it is, more accurately, loss of intelligibility. Words are often missing or distorted…leading us to believe that “everyone is mumbling.”

  • There are several simple and affordable assistive listening devices you can use in your practice to help make your services more accessible. These are helpful for communicating with both  hearing aid users and those who have not yet acquired hearing aids or who do not realize how much they are missing due to a hearing loss. 

  • Support groups and pre-and post-fitting education, or auditory rehabilitation, play a significant role in consumer satisfaction and adjustment. 

  • There are a number of other resources that go into more detail on such subjects as how hearing loss is experienced, its physical, emotional and social impact, problems that lead to communication breakdown, impact on the spouse and family, special problems of older adults, steps toward adjustment, the value of assistive listening devices, how to cope in a medical facility and, most important, implications for helpers and suggestions for how to make your services more attractive and accessible.

Laine Waggoner is the Director of HEAR (Hearing-loss Education And Resources), which conducts support groups, facilitates seminars, and provides private coaching for individuals who are experiencing hearing loss.  Email:

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