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TitleA Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss
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Page 2

A Quiet World


Page 112

Regardless, “never mind” is an acknowledgment of mu-
tual frustration and failure. With these words—among
the easiest to lip-read because of their context and famil-
iarity—typically comes a brief flash of pain: a reminder of
your deficiency, a twinge of loss, a fleeting awareness that
you will never know what it was that, an instant ago,
seemed worth saying.

I do not blame those who utter those stinging words,
which sometimes are accompanied by a shake of the head,
rolled eyes, or a dismissive gesture. What else should peo-
ple do? What would I do in their place? Still, I am grateful
that my sensitive and clear-voiced closest friends—is their
clear articulation one reason they are my closest friends?—
never utter those words. At least not yet.

A Loving Partner to the End 18 NOVEMBER 1997

For seven decades my father and mother have been an oa-
sis for each other. They met while riding a commuter
ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, fell in love, and
married only after saving money to pay off debts. With an
aunt’s assistance, they built their first home, without in-
door plumbing, for $1,012. After nearly twenty years of
marriage, about the time my memories of them began,
they still were joyfully in love. Each day as Dad returned
home, they greeted each other with a warm embrace and
the sort of kiss that said, “I love you.” She was a dedicated
mother of four, a skilled homemaker, and a gracious host-
ess at many dinners and parties in our home. She was also
utterly loyal to Dad. When he was out of earshot, she of-
ten reminded us children how hard he worked and how

Aids and Advice 99

Page 113

honorable he was. To her, he was a great man, as he is to
his children.

In her later years, as silence encroached on her world,
he became her helpmeet and safe haven. Much as he would
have liked to socialize with friends and travel, he never
strayed far from her side. He translated for her using their
pidgin signs, with his familiar lips slowly forming words,
and especially using their writing boards. As she grew
weaker, he dressed her, bathed her, assisted her in the
bathroom, and at night helped her get ready for bed. “She
was there for me for so many years. Now it is my time to
be there for her.” Aware of her dependence on him—
someone else could take over the nursing care, but no one
could replace his companionship—all of us wished that in
the end she would not be left alone.

Last week, that wish was granted. Dad, still able-bod-
ied and clear of mind at eighty-nine, was with her when
the sweet chariot swung low to carry her home. In her fi-
nal days, however, even he could not reach her. When she
was moaning in pain during her brief waking periods,
struggling to communicate, not even he could make out
her indistinct words. Her isolation was now complete.

As an extended family held together by the faith
of our parents, we like to imagine that “great gettin’-up
morning” when, in the vision of John of Patmos, God
“will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be
no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away,” and all things are
made new. In my vision of this hoped-for reality, the ears
of the deaf once again hear a bird’s song, a friend’s inti-
mate words, a lover’s approach . . . and Mother leaps up to
embrace her life partner and to laugh again.

100 Aids and Advice

Page 223

Sensorineural hearing loss, 39, 125,

Sheridan, Brian, 183–84
Shriver, Maria, 86
Siemens, 149
Signal-to-noise ratio, 107, 108, 156,

Snow, James, 159
Social comparison, 60, 95–96
Social isolation: and hearing loss, 6,

20, 25–26, 31, 60, 100, 182, 193;
and hearing aids, 31, 187, 188; and
communication, 34–35, 48–49,
69, 80; and congenital deafness,
56; and self-consciousness, 68, 75–
76; and blindness, 80–81; and as-
sistive hearing devices, 156; and
cochlear implants, 185

Sockman, Ralph, 120
Sonic Innovations, 149
Sorkin, Donna, 137
Sound compression, 128
Sound deprivation, 17
Sound location, 43, 129–31, 151,

Sound waves, 117–18, 122–23
Speech-recognition software, 88–89,

131, 133, 158
Speech-translation systems, 158
Spousal relationships: and hearing

technology, 10, 60, 94, 171; and
television volume, 12, 154; and
hit-to-miss ratio, 13–14, 15; and
radio volume, 17; and concern for
safety, 17–18, 86; and communica-
tion, 35, 66–67, 74, 75; strength
of, 35, 99–101; and American Sign
Language, 67; and social compar-
isons, 95; hearing aids as benefit
for, 186–89. See also Family relation-
ships; Social isolation

Stein, Gertrude, 41

Stem-cell research, 40, 193
Stenocaptioning, 181
Stokoe, William, 41, 45
Stone, Rocky, 77–78
Strenta, Angelo, 29
Syphilis, 125

Teaching: and inappropriate re-
sponses, 4; students’ names, 8–9,
16; writing as form of, 9–10, 18;
and programmable aids, 13, 16,
18–19; hearing loss as impediment
to, 20; and dialogue, 25; and class-
room acoustics, 107–8

Telecoil (T-coil), 153, 154–55, 169,
177–79, 180, 181–82

Telecommunication device for the
deaf (), 76, 152, 158, 161

Telephone relay services, 79
Telephones: and volume control, 28, 29,

31, 32, 78, 152, 182; and assistive-lis-
tening devices, 76–77, 85, 152–53,
158, 161, 182

Teletypewriter (), 76–77, 85, 152
Television: and volume, 3, 12, 65, 74,

134–35, 142, 154; and closed cap-
tioning, 60, 78, 157–59, 176, 182

Text telephone, 76–77
Tinnitus, 102, 128–29, 173, 177
Townsend, Pete, 172
TravelCom communication system, 156
Trychin, Samuel, 131–32

Vernon, McCay, 175
Vieira, Meredith, 41
Vision: blindness compared to, 6, 64;

deterioration in, 14, 58, 136; and
lipreading, 78; and self-conscious-
ness, 110; and brain, 121; and
monovision contact lenses, 139–
40. See also Blindness

Voice-dictation software, 88–89

210 Index

Page 224

Voice distortion: and hearing aids, 5, 74,
98, 168; and programmable aids, 12,
16; and self-consciousness, 16, 19,
75; adaptation to, 18–19, 140, 171;
and radio talk shows, 27

Warren, Richard, 133
Wheeler, John, 172–74

Whitestone, Heather, 81–82
Widex, 149
Wilson, Junius, 65–66
World Federation of the Deaf,

Wright, David, 58

Zimbardo, Philip, 30–31

Index 211

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