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New Guides from Akoio Help You Talk About Hearing Loss

Learning how to talk about hearing loss isn’t easy, but our new guides can help. Akoio members can access them now as part of a free Membership.

Hearing Habits at Home

What happens when you bring adult siblings back home to care for mom and dad during a pandemic quarantine? Three weeks of sleeping in my childhood bedroom across the hall from my sister brought back a lot of great memories. We had some great laughs together. Our stories brought more than a few smiles and chuckles to our parents as well. Reflecting on my early years reminded me of who I am and who I’ve become, particularly my journey with hearing loss. The togetherness at home also reminded me just how difficult it can be for families and loved ones to talk to each other about hearing loss—or to talk to a family member with hearing loss.

On more than one occasion, when I asked someone to repeat something they had said, other family members jumped in to do the same. They probably thought they were helping, but the overlapping conversations became a confusing cacophony of sound. My inner teenager recoiled. Family members speaking loudly at me (and not really to me) suddenly and unexpectedly opened a scar, prompting a momentary feeling of ineptitude and insecurity. Thankfully, my older and wiser self took charge with confidence. I quieted everyone down and said, “You must let me ask and hear directly from the person who was speaking. Everyone talking loudly at once doesn’t help—it just makes me feel awkward and incompetent. Please let me manage my listening and just rephrase what I may have missed, using a normal tone of voice—one at a time.”

I’m Not Alone (and Neither Are You)

I know I’m not alone in this experience. Johns Hopkins researchers estimate that about 1 in 6 Americans (15%) have some hearing loss. The NIH says about 30 million Americans could hear better with a hearing aid, but the WHO says more than 80% of us won’t use one. Why? Mostly because we’re afraid of looking old or like we’re not fully competent. We can be a bit like my teenage self: feeling insecure and unsure how to talk about our hearing loss—or maybe even too scared to address it.

The “How to Talk About Hearing Loss” Series

But hearing well is important for our mental and physical health, and it directly affects our relationships. So, we cannot be afraid to talk about it. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce the release of our new “How to Talk About Hearing Loss” series. Whether you’re looking for ways to talk to others about your own hearing loss, or needing the right words to talk to someone close to you about their hearing loss, our guides can help:

And, for those ready to accept professional coaching, purchase a hearing aid or consider the variety of assistive devices now available, working with an audiologist may be the best next step. Our Audiologist Interview Guide can help you identify a hearing health professional that fits your needs.

Community Matters

I hope these guides help you in talking about hearing loss. More importantly, I hope they encourage and inspire you to take positive action about your hearing health. To access them, you’ll need to become a member of Membership is free, and you’ll get immediate access to the entire series. We need to change the conversation around hearing loss—and we need to support each other as we do.

In the coming months, you’ll see more (free) helpful content and a growing community of members sharing their stories. In that spirit, please leave a comment, send a message, or connect with us on Facebook. We want to hear from you, and we want to help.

Bill Schiffmiller is the CEO and Founder of Akoio, a company dedicated to providing products and services tailored to the needs of people with hearing loss. A life-long hearing aid user and hearing wellness advocate, Bill was the former Accessibility Advocate for Apple, Inc., and received his Master of Professional Studies degree in Design Management at Pratt Institute.