Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

If you know that you have hearing loss, you have inevitably had to as others to help you out. Although some of us resist asking for assistance, hearing loss simply makes it impossible to hear what others are saying sometimes, especially when there is background noise or several voices speaking in a room at once. 

The last time you weren’t able to hear what someone said, what did you do about it? Unfortunately, too many people take the path of least resistance, letting that comment whiz by and not saying anything at all. After time goes by, the confusion compounds, and others will come to notice that you aren’t getting the whole picture. 

Even if you try to make a best guess about what was said, relying on context clues and the other statements you did understand, it is altogether too common to make mistakes, confound the meaning of things, and lead to tension or frustration in the communication process. 

For all these reasons, it is essential to make it known that you weren’t able to hear what another person said, yet the way you communicate that information also makes a big difference. The style of telling others that you couldn’t hear what they said is called the “disclosure method,” and it can make the difference between getting the help you need and staying in the dark. Let’s look at the three general types of disclosure methods as well as the benefits of talking about hearing loss. 


Perhaps the most common form of “disclosure” is in fact not disclosing the fact of your hearing loss at all. Rather than letting someone know that you have hearing loss, it is quite common to simply ask for accommodation of some kind. By asking, “What’s that?” or saying, “I didn’t get that,” you are not really telling someone that you have hearing loss. 

Although this strategy might seem good enough, it can easily be misinterpreted. People with perfectly good hearing miss things in conversation all the time, and your question or comment can easily be mistaken for one of those instances. The real problem with this method of “non-disclosure” is that you aren’t improving your chances of being heard in the future. Unless a person knows that hearing loss is an ongoing struggle for you, they can’t help make it easier for you. 

Basic Disclosure

The second type of disclosure is known as “basic disclosure,” as it achieves the simple task of letting someone know that hearing loss is an issue for you. If you simply state that you are hard of hearing or have trouble hearing in certain contexts, at least the person in the conversation will be aware of your needs going forward. However, the problem with this style of disclosure is that simply knowing a person has hearing loss doesn’t mean that we know how to help. In the future, this person might not be any better at helping you hear with simple basic knowledge like this. 

Multipurpose Disclosure

The most comprehensive way to talk about hearing loss is “multipurpose disclosure.” By not only explaining that you have hearing loss but also letting a person know what they can do to help, you are creating the possibility of better communication going forward. 

By simply saying, “I have trouble hearing. Can you come closer?” you are letting the other person know a simple step they can take to make hearing easier. For some people with hearing loss that accommodation might be standing in the same room, looking directly, or speaking into a “good” ear. 

With such individualized accommodation needs, this final step is necessary to help you in a lasting way. However, the most effective method of accommodating hearing loss is treatment. 

Treating Hearing Loss

By contacting us for a hearing test and consultation, you will embark on the path toward assistance. Although everyday accommodations can be helpful, they are not a permanent solution, particularly if hearing loss gets worse. Hearing aids are suited to many situations and new designs can be quite low-profile. Rather than asking others to remember how to help you in each different situation, why not take the solution into your own hands with hearing assistance?