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  • Shannon Reyenga

I can't hear farts and eight other advantages of hearing loss



My husband and I are leaving on our honeymoon this weekend and my biggest wish for him is to be deaf like me for our eight hour flight to Europe. Yes. I said I wish he could have hearing loss. Not forever - just for a short bit of time.


Most of the time, having hearing loss sucks. But there are some advantages, like getting a good night’s rest on a plane.


Deaf Gain is an idea discussed by several deaf researchers, advocates and bloggers. The term has been on the rise in recent years and essentially means means to counter the “loss” of hearing with a “gain.” The concept explored thoroughly by researchers H-Dirksen Bauman and Joseph Murray as they identify ways people benefit from hearing loss. For example, they write deaf individuals "tend to have unique capabilities in spatial and facial recognition, peripheral processing, and the detection of images.”


Not all the usual “gains” of deafness apply to me because of I also have vision loss. But, I do appreciate some parts of my hearing loss like:


1. I don’t hear farts: Even with my cochlear implant, I don’t hear other people’s farts or the noises of people in the bathroom stalls next to me. I guess it’s possible that I’ve heard one before, but my brain doesn’t recognize the sound. Thanks hearing loss!


2. I can find the peace of silence everyday: I didn’t understand this till I was an adult, but nothing is more relaxing than taking off my hearing aid and cochlear implant after a long day. Silence is incredibly peaceful. Some people have to camp out in the wilderness to escape noise pollution - all I have to do is turn off my ears.


3. Endless entertainment: Remember the time I thought elevator and alligator were the same word? Or after I got my cochlear implant activated when all music sounded like Tom Waits? Hearing loss can be really funny.


4. Lipreading: Because I was born with hearing loss, I first learned to speak through lipreading. It comes naturally to me. Though only 30 to 45 percent of the English language can be understood through lip reading alone, this skill sure puts me at an advantage in noisy situations.


5. No sleepless nights: Few things can wake me up at night or in the morning, none of them involve loud garbage trucks, trains, snoring or roommates engaging in sexual activity.


6. Can’t hear catcallers or people who are hitting on me: Okay. I actually don’t know if people are catcalling me, but it seems to be a normal experience for a young woman? Right?? Either way, in order to talk with me, someone needs to engage in direct and meaningful conversation.


7. I can focus at work: When I was working in Denver, I sat across from the business development lead for the architecture branch of our engineering firm. For those of you who may not know, this meant he was on the phone all day long. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I was the perfect person to sit across from him. I tuned him out with my magic ears!


8. Easily Surprised: It's really easy to surprise me with a gift, a party or just your mere presence. I don't hear whispers and I love being surprised when my husband comes home from work.


9. Persistence: Life with hearing loss is a daily battle of verbal puzzles and communication challenges. In order to be successful, deaf people must think creatively to adapt to challenges and be persistent. Growing up with hearing loss has gifted me with the grit and resilience to work my hardest to achieve my goals.

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