With all the ways to identify ourselves on cyberspace, I thought deeply about how to choose an identity for myself that represent me well.  I was born Profoundly Deaf, which is the most extreme level of hearing loss. 

People often ask me how much can I hear for two reasons, they know I am deaf and that I can use hearing aids.  So to best describe my hearing loss, I will describe both levels of hearing I can achieve.

Without my hearing aids, I can not hear any sound.  Not even my own voice.

With my hearing aids which sole function is to amplify surrounding sounds, I am able to hear to the diagnosed level of moderate hearing loss.  I have often been asked what exactly does this mean.  Keep in mind that I can not tell you exactly because I do not know what it is like to have normal hearing.

All I can give you is a set of parameters to understand what I can hear with the assistance of hearing aids.

  • The louder the sound, the easier it is to hear.
  • The higher the sound, the easier it is to hear.
  • The closer the sound, the easier it is to hear.

I grew up in a small town in the hills about 20 miles from the coast.  It was in this town I learned to speak through intensive speech therapy for a little over 15 years.  People often tell me they are amazed at how well I can speak. 

One common statement I get is “It is easy for me to forget you are deaf because you talk so well.”  Another common statement in the same vein, “I wouldn’t have guessed you were deaf if you hadn’t told me.”

It is because of those two common statements I often wondered how to explain it the most simplest terms why anyone should not misunderstand that being deaf is not related to being able to talk.  To sum it up, the voice box is only a machine

Any machine can be programmed to perform certain functions, so a voice box can be programmed through repetition to perform certain phonetic sounds.  I do speak a little funny but not in the sense of speaking with an accent. 

See, I was taught to say the words the way they are spelled.

A classic example is a Spanish word, Jose, which would be Jose with a J as I was taught but later I learned the J in Spanish is really a h sound so if I were to learn to speak Jose correctly, I would have spelled it Ho-say.

A common example in the English language is the -ed ending, such as walked.  I have an annoying habit of saying walked, not walkt.

Needless to say, a voice box is still a machine. 

One interesting tidbit I noticed about my voice box is that I do not consciously lower or raise my voice.  If my hearing aid is on high volume, my mind believes I am talking loudly enough when people tell me that I am talking too low.  Likewise when I am talking too loud while on low volume, people tell me to “dial it down”…

To be continued…

One Response to “about sayonaratosilence”

  1. eastwestcoast Says:

    That was a very interesting. My Dad is not profoundly deaf but does sometimes wear hearing aids – more for the family members than for him, though (chuckle). He can definitely hear sounds, it’s more word discrimination. He can have conversations when it is relatively quiet i.e., inside the house, in a car, shopping center, etc. But, when outside interference is very loud, such as a crowded restaurant or sporting event, then he has a hard time hearing without the aids. Sometimes when he doesn’t wear his aids, he can hear – by that I mean we can have a normal conversation without someone having to constantly repeat themselves or raise their voices – in situations we don’t expect him to be able to. To a certain extent, I think my Mom believes that Dad just hears what he wants to hear. Hmmm….

    I also work for an ENT so we have a lot of patients who wear hearing aids. Like you, some of them are deaf but speak very well. I wouldn’t have noticed their impairment except that some would ask me to slow down when I speak. They were reading my lips. How cool is that?!? How about hand language? Do you do that? We don’t have many patients that do but when I see it, I just think it’s so beautiful. I don’t really know how to explain that last statement. Hand language is just like learning any other language only the hands are used – and there is such gracefulness and expression to it. In my opinion, watching hand language is like listening to Italian or Spanish. It’s very beautiful. Don’t understand a word but I know I appreciate it.


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