Some 28 million Americans and 350 million people worldwide live with hearing loss. What is it like? How do those who are hard of hearing cope? What are their experiences of pain and pathos, of hope and humor? How can medicine and technology now assist people who are hard of hearing, and what is on the horizon?
This book offers some answers. My perspective combines my vocation as a research psychologist and writer with my experiences as the son of a woman deafened late in life and as a hard of hearing person. This unusual combination, it occurred to me one day, positioned me to speak about hearing, hearing loss, and hearing interventions as both a participant and an observer. To personalize the information, I have cast it in the form of an occasional journal in which I record both my experiences and, especially in the later entries, my encounters with new technologies and new insights into the nature of hearing.
While writing, I have imagined two audiences looking over my shoulder. The first is my peers, the hard of hearing—a fast growing group because of the aging of our population and the cumulative effects of amplified music, power mowers, motorcycles, and blow dryers. As you read, I hope you will be stimulated to reflect on your experiences and your own identity as a person with hearing loss.
My second audience is our loved ones. Here in America that includes more than 15 million spouses, 50 million or so children, and as many close friends. Sometimes, out of curiosity or exasperation, you wonder about our experience—what it sounds like, what it feels like. At other times, you wonder how best to alert us to hearing problems and persuade us to seek assistance. Drawing on both psychological research and my own experience, I hope first to help you understand the sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious experiences of hearing loss, and second to suggest how you might more effectively offer love and advice. Along the way we'll meet others who are living with hearing loss. And we will marvel at the intricacies of hearing and find hope in the latest hearing-assistive technology.
I am indebted to many for their support in this project. My poet-colleague Nancy Nicodemus inspired me to begin recording my experiences. My audiologist, Edward Szumowski, endured, and even led me to think he enjoyed, my endless questioning. Ear surgeon Michael Disher gave me additional information and directed me to the resources of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People. Susan Arellano at Yale University Press, sensitized by her being in one of the target audiences, comprehended and then helped shape my vision for this book. Letha Dawson Scanzoni provided both skilled editing and heartening encouragement, as did Susan Abel of Yale University Press at a later stage. The first four, along with a number of friends and family members, read early drafts and encouraged me to keep writing. Among those family members are my father, Kenneth, and my soul mate, Carol, who is sometimes my ears, sometimes my counselor, and sometimes my critic. To each of these, I offer my thanks.
David G. Myers
Holland, MI 49422-9000
Excerpted from A Quiet World: Hearing Loss and How to Live With It by David G. Myers,Yale University Press, 2000.
Copyright c 2000 by the David and Carol Myers Foundation. All rights reserved.
A Quiet World is available through your local bookstore or Amazon.com.