How Deaf people hear with ears

In addition to another post "How Deaf people hear without ears", this focuses on how Deaf people hear with assistive devices, such as hearing aids. This post does not talk about the experiences of deaf people who are deafened, late-deafened, or some hard-of-hearing and deaf people who can hear and speak well with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Many Deaf people choose not to wear hearing aids or simply turn them off. Even many Deaf people choose not to use their cochlear implants. There are a few cases where Deaf people decide to have their cochlear implants surgerically removed.

One of ASL students asked the ASL instructor Peter Skarp a question, "Why don't you use hearing aids?" At first he found it a bit difficult to explain. But, eventually he figured out a metaphor as illustrated in the video below.

His version of an answer is interesting (and funny. He's a funny guy). For him, an approximate metaphor is like paper crunching, crumpling and crackling. Many deaf children, out of coersion or expectation, wear hearing aids just... well. His experience is not unusual.

Another, my usual explanation is that hearing sounds with hearing aids in my ears is like watching a static TV. Okay, that static metaphor is not that accurate. More like there are different moldable shapes and sizes of the static dots.

In these illustrations, you cannot see the images or make out the shapes, lines, and colors. Or, you just see broken pieces of words and letters flashing here and there like scattered pieces of a glass flashing and glittering all over the floor. That's what hearing with hearing aids are like for many, but not for all.

That's one end of the spectrum and the other end is clarity. There are other deaf people who can understand sounds to various degrees on the spectrum in combination with other ways such as lipreading. Not to mention that we can identify different kinds of vibration better than hearing sounds.

Another aspect of hearing sounds with hearing aids for some Deaf people is something that prompt them to remove the aids from their ears. That something is grima. It's like hearing the sound of fingernails scratching on the blackboard. But, perhaps more like, since there are all kinds of sound, it's more like a mixed sound of fingersnails, knives, balls, hammers, cottonballs, whatever you name, scratching, hitting, stomping on the blackboard. It can be headaching.

"Hey, did you know that there is a technology available that helps you hear?" It's not uncommon that Deaf people are asked. So naive.

And, beware, asking this question can be culturally sensitive and offensive, depending on the contexts. If an ASL student asks an ASL instructor that question, it's forgiving. If a doctor makes a suggestion, ahem.

It's no surprising that some deaf persons decide to get rid of the hearing aids in response to hearing oppression, painful experiences of audism, or such.

Eyeglasses are helpful for most seeing people but not always for blind people. Likewise, hearing devices are helpful for deafened, but not for all deaf people.

Related Posts

How deaf people hear without ears, the concepts of sound and silence.