Hearing Link

Becoming assertive about your hearing loss

Are we passive, aggressive or assertive? Being assertive is about stating our needs clearly and asking for help. Being passive is avoiding situations that we can’t hear in. Being aggressive is getting angry with other people because we cannot hear.

Assertiveness is very empowering because it is about taking the responsibility for good communication without apologising for having a hearing loss. There is no need to feel guilty.

Like anyone else we have the right to:

  • State our needs
  • Be treated with respect
  • Make a request
  • Be honest
  • Ask for help
  • Make mistakes
  • Be less than perfect
  • Have satisfying relationships
  • Change
  • Speak for ourselves

How to tell people we are deaf

Asking for help

  • I’ve got a slight hearing loss
  • I wear a hearing aid
  • With all this noise going on I can’t hear that well
  • I am deaf
  • I am a lipreader

However, telling people that we have a hearing loss is not enough; we also need to tell them what they can do to make communication easier.


  • Speak a little loud but please don’t shout
  • I lipread so please look at me when you speak
  • Speak slower please
  • Shall we turn off the television?
  • Would you rephrase that?
  • Speak one at a time
  • Would you mind writing that down?

Communication is at least a two-way process – all those involved need to work at it.

 What you can do to help yourself

  • Ensure the room is well lit
  • Wear hearing aids or implants as appropriate
  • Use a loop system
  • Sit near the front in a meeting
  • Wear glasses if appropriate (and make sure your eyes are checked regularly to prevent strain)
  • Carry a pad and pen so others can write things down

Tell people how they can help – don’t expect them to guess!


Jenny and Sarah

two older ladies smilingJenny and Sarah are good friends who have been attending the theatre together for many years.

Sarah’s hearing loss is a result of otosclerosis (deterioration of the stapes – a small bone in the ear) and she has to use two hearing aids. She complains that the actors are not speaking as clearly as they used to.

Sarah’s passive solution

  • Stay at home and watch television.

Sarah’s aggressive solution

  • Blame the hearing aids and stop using them.

Sarah’s assertive solution

  • Visit the audiologist to have the hearing aids checked to make sure they are not faulty
  • Request that a loop programme be added
  • Wear the hearing aids to the theatre
  • Read a synopsis of the play before attending the theatre
  • Make enquiries about the availability of assistive listening devices in the theatre (loop system, infra red system, captioned performances) and use them
  • Sit where she can see the actors clearly
  • Sarah tells Jenny about the changes in her hearing and asks for help

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