“I hear you, but I’m not listening”

People always assume that hearing and listening are the same, but they are not.

A noisy room, multiple people speaking, or managing a busy schedule can all lead to not focusing on what someone is saying. Individuals with hearing loss are at a disadvantage when it comes to situations like these.

How are hearing and listening different?

Hearing is defined as the act of perceiving sounds by the ear while listening is the act of actively choosing to concentrate on the sounds from a certain source and process that information in the brain. Although the two are not the same, they share a unique relationship. In order to listen, you have to be able to hear, however the reverse is not true. This means that the process of hearing occurs faster than listening.

Dr. Datino of Audiology & Speech Solutions states “while it might take you a full second to notice something out of the corner of your eye, turn your head toward it, recognize it and respond to it, the same reaction to a new or sudden sound happens at least 10 times as fast”.

Many individuals who are newly classified as hard of hearing have a difficult time coping with the diagnosis. It is noted that an individual receives hearing aids approximately 5-7 years after they should have. During this time period, the individual’s hearing deteriorates further.

Another remedy for better hearing is ALDs, or Assistive Listening Devices. ALDs “offer a variety of functions to help people hear better in busy or noisy environments, or in situations where there is a significant distance between the user and the sound they wish to hear”. ALDs are typically used as temporary solutions. They can be used for talking on the phone, watching TV, and listening to music or sound in public environments. ALDs can be used with hearing aids, but also by itself.

Hearing and listening go hand and hand for proper communication, but it is up to you to take the first step and ensure you can effectively hear and listen by using hearing aids and ALDs.