5 – Myths and Misconceptions

There are a number of misconceptions about hearing loss that are so commonly believed that they reach mythical proportions. The problem with the misconceptions is that they cause widespread misunderstanding about people who have hearing loss, perpetuate the negative stigma about people who have hearing loss, and prevent seeking effective treatment for hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Myth

This is the misconception that hearing aids function much the same as eyeglasses. Most people who wear glasses get close to 20/20 vision when they wear them. Hearing aids do not restore hearing in the same way. They amplify sound, but cannot amplify sound frequencies that are damaged or destroyed. They also amplify unwanted environmental sounds as well as those the person wants to hear. Hearing aids are most often necessary for improving ability to hear, but they are not all that is needed.

Lip-Reading Myth

Many people hold the erroneous belief that when one loses hearing, he or she automatically becomes a good speech-reader. The fact is that people vary in their ability to speech-read. Most people need formal instruction through speech-reading classes. Also, speech-reading is useless when one cannot clearly see the speaker’s face. A really good speech reader can usually get only about 40 percent of what is being said. Like hearing aids, speech reading skills are helpful, but are not a final solution

Sign Language is for Everyone Misconception

All too often sign language is recommended for people who are hard of hearing or an interpreter is brought in to sign for them. The majority of people who have hearing loss do not use sign language and are not interested in learning it. It requires time and effort to learn sign language and, for most people who are hard of hearing, their family members, coworkers, and friends do not know or use sign language, so it would not be helpful when communicating with them.

The first choice for most people who have hearing loss should always be to do what is necessary to capitalize on their residual hearing through amplification systems and effective communication behavior.

Professionals Understand Hearing Loss Misconception

If professionals, other than audiologists, have had any training at all in hearing loss, it has most often been focused on people who are deaf and rely on sign language. There is very little or no formal training in any profession other than audiology/EENT focused on people who have hearing loss but do not use sign language.

Physicians receive about one hour of instruction on the ear in some medical schools and that is on the anatomy and does not include psychosocial issues. Mental health providers and educators also have had little or no education and training on the psychosocial implications of and procedures for accommodating hearing loss other than using sign language or employing an interpreter.

People Who Are Hard of Hearing Understand Hearing Loss Misconception

Experience indicates that the majority of people who have hearing loss do not know important information concerning their hearing condition. For example: