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The 2020 Pandemic and Hearing Loss

As we navigate our way through the ongoing pandemic and deal with it's many difficulties, there are some positive outcomes as well. Call it a silver lining, though with regard to the pandemic that may be going too far. Some of those positive outcomes are things like spending more time with family or driving and polluting less by working from home. In that regard, I think the pandemic has allowed those of us without a hearing loss to see what it's like for the hearing impaired community in many ways.

Let's start off with masks. How often in the last year have you had difficulty communicating with someone because of masks? They make it hard to hear, muffling sound to a degree. Furthermore, they make it difficult to pick up on cues or read lips, something most do subconsciously, but may require conscious attention for the hearing impaired. The masks, besides keeping us safe and healthy, have levelled the playing field to a degree with regard to effectively communicating face to face.

How about non-face to face interactions? Did you conduct work or personal meetings on your computer in 2020? How many of you used Zoom, Webex, and other virtual meeting platforms to stay in touch with family? My guess is that almost everyone did, and also that nobody conducted all of their meetings without some technical difficulties. For example, audio cut in and out, video was grainy or choppy, background noises made it hard to understand, etc. I think you know where I'm going with this. These kinds issues are some of the kinds of things that those with hearing impairment may deal with on a daily basis, pandemic or not.

I could continue to draw other similarities and connections, but I think these two suffice to make the point. I hope that this past year, and the hardships we have endured, will help us to be more compassionate and to relate to one another. I leave you with this awesome quote from Hellen Keller, "Blindness cuts you off from things, but deafness cuts you off from people".


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