For one of my assignments I was asked to interview people who wear hearing aids. I was able to interview a 54 year old lady. Here is her story:
Ruth grew up like any other hearing child. When she was nine years old, she was bumped by a car. She was crossing the road and a car came to a screeching halt just past her. It bumped her to her knees. As far as she knew, her only injury was scraped up knees. She began having a gradual hearing loss, to the point, six months later, she was deaf. She was placed in the hard of hearing class in elementary school. In the 60's it was taboo to teach a child who was hard of hearing sign language, especially one who already had oral language. So she was taught lip reading and oral speech therapy to keep her speech skills. She rode the bus with kids who were deaf. But because she was not taught sign, she would just enviously watch. She wanted to know what they were saying. When she was a teenager, she went to a summer camp where she learned more sign and gained friends who were deaf who helped teach her sign language.
Ruth's favorite job was working for a Deaf Agency. Her job was to teach late deafened adults the tools out there for them. To show them the different hearing aids and assistive technologies available. To teach them assertiveness, to speak up and not withdraw. To help them know that they were still a person and important.
With her hearing aids, Ruth has 50% or more hearing. She said that without her hearing aids she becomes drowsy and withdrawn. She is completely disinterested in the world around her. She becomes a different person. Everyone she loves is hearing, she is so grateful for modern technology to be able to communicate and hear and understand all those she loves.
Ruth married a man who is hearing. All of her children are hearing. One of her daughters married a man who is hard of hearing. This same daughter is an ASL interpreter for a child who is now in junior high. (She worked with the same child since elementary school.) What I find fascinating is the fact that this couple signed with their kids from birth and they began signing around 9 mos. of age! I think all babies should learn sign, so they can communicate so much earlier than oral speech.
Ruth wears a behind the ear hearing aid (they are the strongest available to her). She has been wearing hearing aids for 45 years. 10 years ago she switched to digital hearing aids instead of analog. Her only complaint is that music sounds different. Not a good different. Speech is so much clearer and as much as she loves music, she'll take the decrease in music enjoyment to be able to hear clearer speech. When using assistive technology, if there is a choice between ASL and CC (closed captioning) Ruth prefers CC. She says, "after all, English is my first language." (ASL is it's own language, with it's own sentence structures. It is not English in sign)