When Delbert and Peggy visited our HomeFirst center a couple of weeks ago, it really struck me how dramatic hearing loss can be, not only for the person affected by it, but for those living with that person. Peggy, who hears quite well, grew frustrated throughout our conversation because of Delbert’s reluctance to the technology that can help him. It’s not that he didn’t want to hear. It’s just that he didn’t want to be a bother to anyone else. He didn’t want handouts. And mostly, he didn’t want to have to learn something new or carry something extra around with him (his cell phone was plenty to haul around).

Image of ND Assistive staff helping a client with receiving and using a phone.
Tami and Delbert working through assistive technology options.

This was an observation day for me, and our consultant Tami, had seen this type of thing before. Here are a few tips I learned from watching her successfully guide Delbert and Peggy into trying something out.

  1. Patience is everything – pushing devices into Delbert’s hand was not going to work. Instead, Tami listened. She listened to Delbert. Then to Peggy. Then to the conversation between the two that developed. Only then, did she begin to offer possibilities.
  2. It’s not a sale – Tami never sold them on a single solution. Instead, she offered suggestions for certain situations. Then, she let them consider where the devices could take them from there.
  3. Demonstration works – But talking about it only got so far. The light really shined on the whole experience when Tami demonstrated how the devices worked. The kicker here was that she not only let Delbert try them, but Peggy did too. When she was able to hear exactly how much they would help Delbert, she was more committed than ever to make sure Delbert at least tried something out.
  4. Try something – Finally, with Peggy now adamant that Delbert at least try one of the devices, it was much easier to get him to borrow one for a while.

Delbert left that day with two devices, borrowed through our short-term loan program (loans are free of charge and for six weeks). But he was back a week later with more questions and we can’t wait to see him again.

Inspired by that visit, I talked about hearing loss and a couple of our favorite devices (one of which Delbert says will help him visit with friends a church again!) on a local television program last week. I featured the Williams Sound PockeTalker (Delbert borrowed this device – Peggy is enthusiastic about its possibilities) and the Comfort Audio Comfort Duett. As this blog is posted, they are still deciding on what devices will work best for them and continue to use out free short term loans to find what works best.

Here’s a link to the interview on KXMB TV’s Studio One show: https://www.kxnet.com/studio701/hearing-loss-help/