The social and psychological implications of partial deafness often go unrecognised by society. Using personal experiences, Ben Bayliss explains how deafness affects him in everyday situations.
“I usually only joke around about my deafness, because I feel like nobody really cares,” Ben Bayliss reveals in a video about his hearing condition. “Whenever someone asks me a question about it, I feel like they’re being polite because it’s something to talk about.” Despite this, he mentions that his aim in making the video is to help deaf and hearing people to understand more about the condition.
Clearing up a misconception about deafness only affecting the elderly, Ben points out that 360 million people are affected by deafness, 32 million of them being children. The individual implications of hearing loss vary greatly, so Ben goes on to describe the psychological effects and social consequences that he experiences as a result of his own deafness.
“Deafness impacts my mindset on a lot of things,” Ben explains at the beginning of his video. “I can wake up in the morning in the best mood ever, I can be ready to face the day, but the second I struggle to hear someone or something goes wrong with the device, then that’s it.”
While 50,000 people in the UK communicate with British Sign Language as their first language, Ben does have some level of hearing and interaction with the verbal world through the use of a hearing device. However, even with the restoration of some hearing, he struggles with communication.
He describes the social impacts of hearing loss when trying to talk to a friend in a noisy environment, saying that “all of these noises are going into my microphone, and then the second someone tries to talk to me, all the audio just gets processed as noise”.
Comparing this experience of only being able to make out a few words to listening to a new song which you don’t know the lyrics to, he mentions that “my brain fills in the blanks by filling them with a word that sounds similar, but actually isn’t”.
In Ben’s opinion, one of the main psychological impacts of hearing loss is frustration and embarrassment from not being able to comprehend. Asking a conversation partner to repeat themselves often leads to this frustration. “[This] can sometimes lead to me getting visibly annoyed and this annoyance often gets misinterpreted as me being annoyed at the person who is talking to me. It’s not, I’m annoyed at myself.”
According to disability.co.uk, one in seven people in the UK suffers from hearing loss, which can cause effects such as social isolation, increased stress, employment discrimination, and depression from communication problems. On his YouTube channel, Ben is very open about his hearing condition, having uploaded videos such as What Is Deafness?, and we applaud him for raising awareness for the hearing-impaired.
Check out Sam Chapman‘s video about her experience with depression. Alternatively, discover Silvie Ruscombe-King‘s foray into the Pretentious Monthly Scrapbook genre!