People with hearing loss often find it difficult to initiate a new relationship since so much of it is based on effective communication. And yet they, like everybody else, can be fun, witty and smart. Hearing loss can be overcome sometimes with treatment. In many cases, it is often possible to use hearing aids and have near-normal to normal hearing. If you are thinking of dating someone with hearing loss or are already doing so, here are some tips to help you along.
Write it out
People with acute hearing loss cannot use the telephone for understandable reasons. Thus if you meet this interesting guy and girl and do not get his call, don’t get worried. Rather check your email or text message inbox which are more likely to have a message for you from him/her. People with impaired hearing prefer to communicate through the written word and in modern times, email or text messaging serves the purpose just fine.
Have an open conversation
Most people with severe hearing loss learn to get by in daily life by lip-reading. This is why when you meet your date, make sure he/she can see you clearly when you are talking. Lip-reading depends on being able to 'see' what other people are saying. If your date cannot see you properly, he/she probably can't read and thus hear you very well. Sometimes it is just not enough – or even nice – to yell out the words. This is because there are certain kinds of hearing impairment where an individual can hear sounds of the regular decibel range although their hearing is distorted. So what is important is clarity – if you are merely mumbling out your words and even though the volume is high, your partner will not be able to understand you. You need to enunciate your words clearly and not simply shout.
Be sure you are facing your partner when you speak to him/her. Don’t let your hair or scarf or some other accessory cover part of your mouth since it could hinder him/her from lip-reading you correctly. Avoid speaking while chewing gum for the same reason. Also if your date asks you to repeat something don't be offended. He/she really didn’t understand what you said. Be ready to repeat but more slowly and clearly this time. If you call out to your partner and they don’t answer you because their back is to you, gently tap them on their shoulder to get their attention. Don't be afraid to ask them questions but be willing to listen to what they say or need. Try not o get irritated, upset or be rude when repeating.
Go the extra mile
One of the best ways of communicating with hearing impaired person is with sign language. So if you want to get to know your partner better, why not attend sign language classes? This will not only help you to ‘converse’ fluently with your partner but also show him/her that you are genuinely interested in taking this thing forward. Indeed you need not look upon sign language as a disability language but rather as a minority language which has its own, interesting sub-culture.
Plan your dates carefully
When dating someone with hearing loss, avoid planning your date around an auditory experience like a music concert or the opera. Even a movie or a play could be only half an experience for your partner if there are no written translations or use of sign language. On the other hand a visit to the city museum or a long hike through the mountain trails could be an apt way of spending time with your partner. Even with those with low hearing, avoid places where there is a lot of background noise like a noisy bowling alley or a nightclub with blaring music. Rather try to go somewhere quiet like a nature park or a horticultural garden so you can talk and really get to know each other.
Dating websites for the hearing impaired are the recent big thing among people with some kind of hearing loss. A 2003 article on msnbc.com 1 points out that such sites are much favored by those who are looking for partners with a hearing condition like their own. Indeed even though these sites have a healthy number of profiles of people with hearing, apparently most hearing impaired prefer to socialize among themselves, with those who have a vested interest in the deaf community or with those who are familiar with the deaf culture as for example sign language interpreters.