Hearing loss: reducing the stigma

November 22, 2010
Hearing loss: reducing the stigma
People who have hearing impairments are often stigmatized in our society, and have often been the basis of jokes in the past. These days, there are still several misconceptions that sometimes remain associated with hearing impairment and they delay the process of seeking help by people who have hearing challenges. Ultimately, these misconceptions can result in a poorer quality of life for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

People who have a hearing impairment can be misjudged by others as being arrogant or condescending when they do not respond correctly when challenged by someone. Sometimes, they are perceived as being less intelligent because they misunderstood a question and responded inappropriately.

Hearing loss doesn’t just affect elderly people.

Not wanting to be stigmatized, people who are hard-of-hearing often try to hide or deny their hearing difficulties. The discomfort of being “hearing-impaired”can make it more difficult for them to gain recognition and acceptance of their hearing difficulties.

Hearing loss is a common problem and is comparable to loss of visual acuity. While hearing impairment is more commonplace as one gets older, the fact is that a hearing impairment can be present in people of any age. Thus, hearing loss shouldn’t be considered a sign of aging.

However, the reality is quite different. Hearing impairment is one of the most prevalent disabilities in the nation. According to the Canadian Institutes for Health Research*, approximately three million Cana dians reported having a hearing impairment.

Misconceptions about hearing loss still discourage many people from seeking help for their hearing difficulties. If someone in your life seems to be having hearing difficulties, encourage him or her to have a hearing test. This test will indicate the health/state of the person’s hearing, and it will be of value in assisting the person in protecting his or her quality of life.

*Source : Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada http ://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/f/pdf_23883.ht