The experience of being home has certainly changed the way we live and the way we communicate. Socializing is now done at a distance and is limited at best. Modern technology has provided us with the ability to communicate virtually. This wonderful resource certainly has challenges & not everyone has the luxury of connectivity. Video conferencing is far from perfect. The computer screen freezes, the audio gets lost, or the sound isn’t loud enough, and captions aren’t available.
It’s not just technology that has its problems. Wearing a mask makes conversation difficult as it creates a barrier for understanding speech. Talking through a mask muffles speech and most masks cover the mouth. Whether we were previously conscious of watching lips move and facial expressions, we do rely on these cues when we converse. Add to that a noisy room and multiple people talking. Imagine that. It’s our new reality. And it’s not easy.
Reflecting on the newfound challenges that people with normal hearing are now facing, imagine how someone with hearing loss must feel every day. How frustrating is it when you can’t understand someone speaking through a mask? How does it feel when communication is a struggle?
When we miss parts of a conversation, it’s sometimes difficult to fill in the blanks. When we don’t hear, we may feel left out of the conversation which may lessen our participation. It is certainly a lot easier to sit back and not engage. Looking at the bigger picture, social isolation can lead to increased anxiety and depression.
Hearing loss is not accepted in the same way as a loss of vision. Most people are quite understanding when someone can’t see. A loss of vision is usually obvious. A hearing loss has little if any visibility, and because we can’t see a hearing loss, most people are not as compassionate. I’m hoping that our new experiences will help change that. In the meantime, keep smiling with your eyes. Speak slowly and distinctly. Be patient. Be kind. We all deserve to be heard.