by Sophie Paller

Young adults dealing with hearing loss have had many challenges as they come to an age of maturity. As “[h]earing or not hearing is not a superficial difference” (ww.alldeaf.com), many people may not realize the trauma associated with living with a hearing family, going to school, and looking for a job. A hearing loss is considered to be a challenge throughout one’s life.

teenagersIt’s always good to accomplish a healthy relationship with your family. However being part of a family, who are all hearing, is difficult for a hard of hearing (HOH) persons. In brief, HOH persons always become dependent on family members though they would rather be independent. By asking for all this extra support, they can offend other family members. For example, their hearing siblings may become jealous of them, because they need the extra help and guidance. Most hearing siblings tend to stick together, while an HOH person is left out most of the time. When they get older, they connect better with the family and become more independent. If they are lucky enough to be a part of a loving family, their parents and siblings are proud of them and their many accomplishments.

Education is a necessity in a HOH person’s life. Their education starts with elementary and continues through to post-secondary. In elementary school, an HOH person is a very shy and quiet. Yet when they make friends they feel safe and come out of their shell. When junior and senior high school begins that’s when their self-esteem can hit rock bottom. When a non HOH teen looks at someone who is different from them they tend to tease and bully that person. When this happens the HOH person feels non-special and powerless. An example of this is when they have school projects they have to work in a group. A HOH person prefers to work by themselves as a hearing person doesn’t like working with a HOH person. This behaviour may continue to the end of the high school years which makes it very difficult for a HOH person to contribute to and be a part of group projects. After graduation post-secondary starts and unless they remain committed and have not become jaded by their years of education they enter a new phase in their learning. Many HOH persons may take a year off as they are feeling anxious about entering a learning environment. What the HOH person doesn’t realize is that in post-secondary a non HOH person is generally more considerate and understanding to a HOH person, as they have matured and are more accepting of others. Another benefit for the HOH person in post-secondary education is the amount of services provided on campus.

In order to obtain a good education to further their careers the HOH person must be financially secure. The HOH person experiences discrimination in their efforts to find gainful employment. To find a job an HOH person must go through certain stages. The first stage is talking to an employment counsellor or for special help a disability counsellor. This counsellor will help them to decide what kind of occupation they are looking for and will offer excellent advice. Stage two is checking out the resources available (ex…newspapers, phone books) this also includes networking. Networking is one of the best resources. The third stage is looking for a job. This requires a lot of preparation and patience. The HOH person experiences discrimination by an employer because they are hearing impaired. Discrimination means “unfavourable treatment based on racial, sexual, or prejudice” (The Oxford Dictionary). As soon a HOH person tells people that they have a hearing loss immediately they are looked upon as being stupid and are no longer paid attention to. No matter how much they are discriminated upon they shouldn’t give up finding a job. There are really cruel and nasty employers, but there are also caring and kind employers. The main factor in looking for a job is to keep trying and never give up no matter how difficult it is.

In conclusion, there is really no difference between a non HOH and HOH person. They are all smart, gifted and talented in different ways. They have to accept themselves for who they are. There were many different topics chosen for this article including family, education and employment. In each of these areas, there is a challenge for each and every one of us who are hearing impaired. It’s a challenge being HOH, but we are strong and brave, therefore we never quit.