Deafinitely Challenging: Cut the Chit-Chat of Background Noise

You’d be wrong to think that a hearing aid can ‘cure’ deafness. This idea is often applied to cochlear implants as well and it’s wrong in both cases – they are nothing more than ‘aids’. In my case, it can help me hear, but not all the time. Today, I wanted to talk about background noise and public events.

Photo: Michael Dornbierer on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons –

So whilst I can hear most things thanks to my HAs, hearing what people say in pubs, bars, restaurants and concerts is a constant struggle. I’ve often said to people that the best way for me to hear someone is when I’m facing them, and they are the only person speaking. As soon as there’s music in the background – or somebody else is speaking – then it becomes a difficult game of deciphering which voice belongs to the person I am speaking to.

If not that, then I have to rely on lipreading. If you’ve not heard of lipreading before, it is when you can decipher what someone is saying by looking at lip patterns (and relying on an awful lot of guesswork). I’ve often been asked if I can lipread and I say that I don’t – at least not consciously. Instead, it may be that I am lipreading subconsciously. But either way, in a loud and noisy environment, concentration fatigue can kick in if I have to listen closely to what somebody is saying.

So how do I deal with that problem? Well, I have always believed that text is a universal way in which to talk to people. When I was first learning British Sign Language to communicate with friends, I first used my phone to talk to them before I was able to sign. The same principle applies to talking to friends at bars, pubs and concerts. Whilst a language can be quite specific, text is accessible for everyone.

On the topic of sign language, using simple gestures to communicate with friends is another strategy I am using. In my case, teaching my friends the signs for drink, food and toilet all help if you want to know where your friends are wandering off to. With regards to both methods, they are definitely something I’m getting used to.

How easy is it for you to hear at events, pubs and restaurants? How do you communicate with your friends in these scenarios? Comment below!


4 thoughts on “Deafinitely Challenging: Cut the Chit-Chat of Background Noise

  1. Interesting!

    I do find that people who are pub goers, disco bopping etc. in places where loud music are played tends to be excellent lipreaders simply because they are forced to! While they might not understand sign language, lipreading is useful tool to get by in addition to texting. Of course some simple hand gestures makes a lot of difference in terms of visual clues.


    • Oh, I am curious to find out if any studies have been done, comparing lipreading ability to the amount of parties they go to.

      Absolutely – visual clues definitely help when sound may not work. It’s the great thing about sign language!


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