Hearing loss is usually correlated with old age, but it is common among teens too. In fact, there are several students at Bonneville High School who are hard of hearing (HoH). According to The Center for Audiology in Texas, one in five teenagers exhibit at least some hearing loss, although the majority of that is damage from loud noises. One misconception about HoH or deaf individuals is that all hearing loss is the same, which is far from the truth. Hearing loss is scientifically measured in five stages: mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, and profound. When an individual is deaf, they can not understand speech even with amplification, and profound or total deafness refers to a complete lack of hearing.
Samuel Memmott, and Rebekah Grover are HoH seniors at Bonneville High School. They are both the only person in their family with hearing loss, and neither of them know what caused their impairment.
Memmott was diagnosed at the end of fourth grade, but his hearing had been degrading for around a year before his official diagnosis. His hearing loss is moderate to severe, and is still declining over time. He wears hearing aids in both ears and would have to give a microphone to his teachers that automatically connects with his hearing aids, but has since learned to lip read and infer from context clues well enough that the microphone is no longer necessary. When asked what most people do not realize about hearing loss, he said, “It's not only frustrating for people when I have to say ‘what' 20 times, it's also super frustrating for me wishing I could just hear better, it makes you feel fairly inadequate.” Despite the downsides, Memmott points out a silver lining: his hearing aids have bluetooth to connect directly to his phone’s audio. Both Memmott and Grover have a 504 plan for their hearing loss, which means that teachers are required to provide accommodations such as captions on videos, printed notes, and a desk at the front of the classroom.
Grover was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss just before sixth grade and has been wearing hearing aids in both ears ever since. In an interview, she said, “I can still hear sounds without my hearing aids, but sounds are very muffled and speech loses its clarity.” Because of her hearing loss, social situations can be difficult sometimes. “Those who are deaf or HoH may interrupt without realizing someone was talking simply because they could not hear,” Grover stated.
Just because someone has hearing loss does not mean that they can not participate in everyday school activities and social conversations. Grover stated, “When hearing people say ‘nevermind’ or ‘it's not important’ after being asked to repeat themselves, it is exclusive.” While accommodations sometimes have to be made for HoH or deaf individuals, they should not be treated any differently than a hearing person.
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