cover image Hearing Loss: From Stigma to Strategy

Hearing Loss: From Stigma to Strategy

Michael Simmons, . . Peter Owen, $29.95 (190pp) ISBN 978-0-7206-1224-0

Hearing loss, according to Simmons, is the most common sensory disability, and this memoir-cum-manual about adult-onset hearing loss should be read by anyone with the condition and those who know them. A retired British journalist who began going deaf in his 50s, Simmons does an excellent job of shedding light on hearing loss's devastating effects: "Losing your hearing cuts you off from everyday exchanges," and people can become unwittingly cruel. Particularly poignant is Simmons's description of asking people to repeat themselves, only to have them wave it off with a friendly smile and an "Oh, it doesn't matter." Such gestures, he points out, seem "to be brushing the thought, and possibly you, off the agenda." Equally powerful is the story of the chair of the National Association for Deafened People, who, in the early days of her hearing loss, "[o]ften… just stayed at home and hid." Simmons explains the physiology of hearing and the shortcomings of hearing aids, but most of his advice is specific to Britain. Still, if his book serves only to make readers reconsider before dismissing a hard-of-hearing person's request to repeat information, it will have served an important purpose. (July)