Hearing Loss: Your Disclosure Method Matters

Hearing Loss: Your Disclosure Method Matters

What is the Disclosure Method?

One practical aspect of coping with hearing loss is deciding how exactly you want to inform other people that you are experiencing it. Hearing loss is an invisible disability. No one will know that you are suffering from it just by looking at you. You will either need to inform people or endure the long and awkward wait for them to figure it out, but that option certainly is not in anyone’s best interest. 

The manner that you choose to tell others about your condition will have a tremendous effect on how they respond and will set the expectations for how you will cooperate to communicate most effectively. Understanding your options and the different ways that people will likely respond differently to each approach will help you minimize the awkwardness of telling others.

There is Absolutely No Reason To Be Ashamed of Hearing Loss

First of all, you must know, however you choose to disclose this information to others, there is absolutely no reason to be ashamed of hearing loss. It is much more common than most people assume. Exact numbers are impossible to know for a great number of reasons, but somewhere between 35- and 48 million Americans live with it. This is almost 14% of everyone 18 years old and above. And this number includes more than 1/3 of everyone aged 65 or older and more than half of everyone aged 75 and above. And though these numbers show how common it is, there is no singular experience with hearing loss. Each individual’s experience is unique. 

Tragically, around 80% of everyone that lives with hearing loss does so without maintaining an appropriate treatment plan. There are plenty of reasons to explain this, but none of them are good enough to justify it. Left untreated, hearing loss will inevitably spiral into emotional and psychological consequences, such as social isolation, loneliness, depression and even disorientation and cognitive malfunctioning.

Hearing loss does come on very gradually, so most frequently people do not even consciously recognize that they are suffering from it. They just know that they are getting more quickly fatigued and disoriented. They can’t explain why. Perhaps a loved one will be forced to speak up that they are recognizing the symptoms. Perhaps the person will have the wherewithal to be responsible with regular hearing exams. However one becomes aware of it, intervening at the earliest possible moment is key to minimizing the consequences. And part of this process is informing others so they know to work with you. 

The Three Disclosure Strategies


Non-disclosure refers to just not telling people, basically hiding it. Usually one would accomplish this by saying the same common phrases anyone uses when they don’t hear something clearly: “I can’t hear you” or “please speak up.”

When you avoid acknowledging the problem, others will obviously have no motive to modify their behavior, so they will not help accommodate communication. 

Basic Disclosure

Basic disclosure means that you tell people you suffer hearing loss and maybe you even give a short explanation, like “I am partially deaf thanks to my years selling concessions at the stadium.” Such disclosure informs others that you benefit from intentional accommodations when communicating.

Multipurpose disclosure 

Multipurpose disclosure refers to informing others about your hearing loss and also giving them helpful strategies for how to best communicate with you. For example, you might tell someone, “I don’t hear as well out of my left ear. Please walk on my right side.”

Multi-purpose disclosure is by far the most impactful way of sharing your situation with others. Simple recommendations help guide other people how to accommodate your disability, so modifying their behavior will be much simpler and more effective. This might be as simple as intentionally facing you directly when they speak. Those who employ the multipurpose disclosure strategy are much more likely to find others are helpful and supportive. 

Don’t Wait to Act

The multipurpose disclosure method empowers you. Using it to tell other people about your condition will boost your confidence and improve your communication.

Your quality of life depends upon your hearing health. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today to help you determine the treatment plan that best suits your specific requirements and your budget.