Self-advocacy is about being aware of your needs, desires, and feelings and being able to effectively communicate these to others. The ability to speak up for yourself to get what you want and need is a skill that may allow you to feel more confident and independent in daily life and when communicating with others.
You know your hearing loss and how it affects your communication with others better than anyone else, so you are the best person to communicate your needs. For adult and teen cochlear implant recipients, self-advocacy skills are vital for managing challenging listening and communication situations. Here are some everyday examples of ways you can practice self-advocacy:
1. Explain Your Situation
Let the people around you know that you have hearing loss and wear hearing devices. Explain the challenges posed by your hearing loss e.g., in conversations or in the workplace.
2. Tell People How They Can Help You
Tell others exactly what they can do to help you understand them when communicating. For example, explain “It helps if you look at me when you are speaking so that I can lip read”. In meetings, ask for one person to speak at a time, for a meeting agenda or printed notes to follow along, and for minutes to be taken for you to review after the meeting.
3. Ask to Reduce Background Noise
Explain the impact background noise has on your listening and ability to communicate with others. Request that background noise be reduced as much as possible (close doors and windows, shut down unnecessary music, use a microphone).
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Employers
Self-advocacy skills are especially useful when looking for employment and career opportunities. If you’re applying for a job and going to interviews don’t be afraid to talk about your hearing loss. You might also talk about any workplace needs you have. However, keep the focus of the discussions on your abilities and skills. Show confidence in your knowledge, qualifications, and expertise and highlight the benefits that your skills can bring to the company. It’s important to prepare yourself in advance to feel confident when talking to the employer. Knowing how to present yourself and point out your strengths is key to getting your dream job.
5. Practice Different Social Scenarios
Effective communication is an important element in maintaining social relationships and achieving your goals. If you don’t feel confident about making an important phone call or going to an important meeting, role-play and practice the scenario at home with a family member or a friend. Prepare yourself by setting up different scenarios. This way you will know in advance how to react and respond in a range of situations, and have practice requesting what you need.
6. Be Social
Being active socially will offer you the opportunity to participate in discussions and share information about your hearing loss. It will also let you interact with new people and gain confidence in initiating conversations or asking about things you need or want in an unfamiliar environment.
7. Join a Community
Connect with other people with hearing loss through social media or communities in your area. Meeting other hearing implant recipients will allow you to exchange experiences, tips, and strategies for communication and living with a hearing implant.
8. Know Your Rights
Find out more about relevant laws and services you are eligible for in your country and region. Local government websites might include important information and tips about pre-employment services, vocational or rehabilitation programs, or financial support that you’re entitled to receive.
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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.