Friday, July 29, 2011

Why I Read, and How It Helps Me Deal with Deafness

Image from Flickr user paulbence
Image is of a young woman reading outside in an urban area.
For as long as I can remember, I have read books. Before that, my mother says she was reading to me constantly. In fact, our reading together helped her identify my hearing loss at an early age while it was still mild - she noticed that I wanted to sit on one side of her while she read to me, the side with my "good" ear. I believe her early identification of my hearing loss combined with my vocabulary development and listening skills helped me immensely in my daily life as an adult.

Now, I still read, constantly. I always have a book with me or have something I can read on my cellphone (like Twitter updates). Not only do I think reading is fun, one of my favorite hobbies, but I think it helps me deal with the challenges that come from being deaf. How?

Reading Increases My Vocabulary
By reading, I learn new and interesting words, which help me when strange words come up in conversation. By building up my vocabulary I can anticipate what people might say, which definitely helps me listen.

Reading Relates to my Job
I am lucky in this case and work in a public library. By reading a wide variety of books I can anticipate names of authors and titles of books that people are going to ask for. It definitely helps to know commonly-requested authors' names, especially when they aren't common names. I can't read while at work, though, so it's a good thing I like it on my own.

Reading Gives Me an "Ear" for Dialogue
Not all authors can write dialogue expressively, but I have found that reading exposes me to a lot of "conversations" that I might not have, which helps me when I am in conversations of my own. Some quirky turns of phrase might confuse me at first, but if I have read them ahead of time they won't throw me off as much. This particularly helps if an author is really good at writing accents or phrases key to a certain dialect.

Reading Gives My Ears a Break
While I'm reading, I don't have to be listening to anything. It helps relax my ears and gives my brain a break. Listening can be wearying when it doesn't come effortlessly, so having a couple of hours (more or less, depending on my schedule) a day where I simply don't have to listen to anything really helps.

Reading Introduces Me to New Thoughts and Concepts
Reading a book can definitely open your eyes to things you never thought about. Something you might reject coming from a talking head on TV can sound more reasonable in a line of engaging dialogue in a book. I love the way books have the power to create new ideas and give us new perspectives. When I read about someone who has a particular challenge in a book, I can put myself in their shoes and see how they overcame the challenge. I just wish there were more deaf/hard of hearing characters in books.

Now I'm not necessarily saying reading would be the same for everyone or have the same results. Reading is a personal thing - some people read, some people don't and what people do read is as varied as personality traits! However, I am very grateful for the influence books have had on my life.


  1. I like to get a read in too when I can. It's like an escape for me to another world.

  2. Hi Megan,

    My mom used to tease me as a girl that I came out of the womb with a book in my hand and that I would be walking down the aisle engrossed in a novel.

    I have never thought about the benefits of reading for someone with hearing loss. Guess I'm lucky I got hooked on reading early.

    Are you participating in the Support Your Local Library reading challenge? You can read about it here. I just finished the first level.

    Hope you are having a great summer!

  3. This is a great post and I totally agree! I love reading for much the same reasons. Also in addition to what you said it's an opportunity to escape the real world for a while - especially when reading my favorite genre - science fiction.


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