Bronte educates us about hearing loss

Posted on 23 March 2018
Bronte educates us about hearing loss

With 82 per cent hearing loss, Bronte Cincotta has some helpful hints about ways to communicate better with people with hearing loss.

The Maitland 21-year-old has worn hearing aids since she was six months old and says the best thing people can do is just exercise patience.

"Most of the time it's extremely difficult for us to hear, even when we are wearing hearing aids," she said.

"It's hard to distinguish different sounds, especially when background chatter overpowers the person's voice. It makes it hard for us to just focus on their voice."

Bronte said other factors include how fast a person speaks. "If they talk too fast, it's more difficult for us to hear them properly."

One of the most irritating experiences Bronte encounters is when people learn about her hearing loss and just brush it off.

"It can be really annoying when a person makes a simple comment like, 'Oh, my grandfather is deaf too, so I understand'. It's so frustrating because everybody's hearing loss is different. Even if they are familiar with it, it doesn't mean they automatically understand the difficulties we face."

Bronte said without her hearing aids, she can't hear many sounds and to this day there are still some basic sounds she can't hear with, or without, her hearing aids.

"I can't hear the sound of running water in the shower," she said. "I can't hear the sound of flies or mosquitoes buzzing; the sound of rain outside or the sound of footsteps in the hallway.

Using her NDIS plan

Bronte's NDIS supports have helped her:

  • Discover and purchase new assistive technologies – a vibrating alarm clock and a smoke alarm, specifically designed to support her and keep her safe
  • Increase her confidence
  • Prepare her to live independently

For people who hear, many would never think about the types of dangerous situations Bronte encounters daily.

"While it's difficult just to engage in conversation, even wearing hearing aids, other aspects of my life can be worrying too," she said.

"Prior to becoming a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant, I was concerned about how I would effectively and safely live independently in the future.

"One of my concerns was being able to wake up in the mornings. My entire life, I have relied on my mum to wake me up but that recently changed when I got some really helpful assistive technology through the NDIS – a vibrating alarm clock and a smoke alarm, specifically designed for people with hearing loss.

"Now I don't have to rely on mum to wake me up every morning, and the smoke detector is a great safety inclusion," Bronte said. "In the event of a fire, it will flash. It also comes with a shaker I can put under my pillow, which will vibrate to wake me up. Although these items may seem small to some, they have drastically enhanced my life."

For anyone hesitant to explore supports via the NDIS, Bronte says, "Just contact them. There's nothing to lose by simply having a conversation with a staff member in order to obtain more information. It can have a real positive impact on your life," she said.

Top three tips to communicating better with people with hearing loss:

  • Gain the person's attention and face them before you start to speak – people with hearing loss are often more reliant on visual cues like lip-reading.
  • Give the person time to adjust – let them stop what they are doing so they can take a moment to turn and completely focus on you.
  • Remember, every person with hearing loss has different communication needs. Don't assume, ask the person what you can do to help the communication flow more smoothly.