Our society encourages openness and freedom. We have freedom to speak, believe, live, travel and educate ourselves. With the passage of time, we have also become more welcoming to new ideas and notions.
Despite the recent modernism of which we boast, would it be safe to say that we have become educated enough to accept people who are different from us? Are there equal opportunities for people who may have different needs? Is there no bias against those who have a different lifestyle than most of the people? Many would answer “yes” to those questions, but there are a few that would beg to differ.
Stigma Surrounding Hearing Loss
It is hard to really understand the challenges faced by people with hearing loss unless you or a loved one has hearing loss. Most well-intentioned people will try to empathize, but none would really understand the depth and width of the problem. But before we can actually evaluate whether there is a stigma surrounding hearing loss, let us look at why and how people with hearing loss are different from others.
On an Individual Level
Nobody is perfect and we all have to live with what we perceive to be “imperfections” in our body, personality or thinking. These imperfections are a part of us, making each one of us unique. The problem arises when we refuse to let our imperfections become a part of our identity. Most people with a hearing problem would strive to alienate it from the rest of their personality. This normally happens with those people who develop hearing loss later in their life. In contrast, people who are born with hearing loss or develop it earlier in their life find it easier to let it be a part of their self-identity because they can’t remember a time without it.
In a Social Setting
Social gatherings are a huge challenge for people with untreated hearing loss. The biggest problem arises perhaps during conversations, when bits of sentences are missed or misunderstood by the patient who would end up responding inappropriately. They try to tackle this problem by either refusing to talk to people because they are afraid of being derided, or they try to talk a lot, coming across as rude and dominating.
It is true that there is a stigma surrounding hearing loss but, that stigma exists mostly in the mind of the patient. It is in the hands of the patient to overcome and erase the stigma that comes with hearing loss by simply treating the problem and taking a major step towards normalcy.