I, the founder of this site, am hearing impaired. Ironic? yeah. I don’t think about it too much, as my impairment does not impede (in my opinion) my enjoyment of the subject. Anyway, awhile back I wrote a piece addressing this irony. Here it is:
Everyone I know realizes I’m a music geek. It takes awhile for most to realize that I am technically hard of hearing.
My parents didn’t always know I was this way. When I was little, the fact that I acted oddly in social settings, for instance preferring to retreat to the book corner in 1st grade rather than be out with the other kids led my parents and teachers to believe something was awry. This led to a plethora of tests and meetings with doctors and psychological specialists, all of which in my ignorance I thought nothing of. Finally, one of my uncles, a radiologist, suggested to my parents that my hearing be tested. Sure enough, moderate hearing loss was found in my left ear and mild hearing loss was found in my right ear.
I’ll never forget the day I first wore hearing aids, these ugly, tan things I wore behind the ear. I distinctly remember stepping outside the clinic that evening and being enthralled of the richness of the atmosphere just created by the traffic. I think this was a prelude to my unusual appreciation of the organized auditory pulses the general public calls music.
You may be wondering what the world sounds like to my naked ears. To be honest, not a whole lot different from when I am wearing aids. Due to the imbalance of hearing ability, my left ear sometimes feels plugged up, and I have the urge to take the imaginary thing keeping my hearing from being in balance out. I can hear most sounds fine, but I have trouble with certain frequencies. When it comes to human speech, I can converse pretty normally without aid but occassionally if one’s voice hits a certain frequency, and I’m not right there next to them it can sound like they’re muttering under their breath and I have to say “What?” many times. If I plug my right ear and try to listen to the world just with my left, my range of hearing narrows significantly. Generally, the higher the frequency the easier I can hear it with the left ear but I can appreciate a few lower sounds as well. I think this is why one of my favorite aspects of concerts is being able to feel the bass right in my chest. Of course, listening to music really loud also seems to even things out to a point where I can hear things at nearly their full richness. I actually prefer listening to music without hearing aids. I can appreciate the bass and richness better without, as when I am wearing them their technology causes them to constantly adjust their “focus” to speech-like sounds, making the music sound rather discombobulated. That, and at concerts aids are unnecessary. Besides, if I did wear them I would be worried about the decibel level overwhelming the tiny microphones.
My “disability,” if you will (even though I don’t really feel like it is one) has caused me to appreciate music in a unique way. I trust that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that this is not an accident.