Navigating Hearing Loss Due to Service in the Armed Forces

Call 0345 872 6666

Navigating Hearing Loss Due to Service in the Armed Forces

Losing one's hearing is a life-changing experience, particularly when it occurs as a result of serving in the armed forces. Here, JMW offers comprehensive advice for individuals and their families to navigate this challenging time.


Maintaining clear and effective communication is a cornerstone in navigating the complexities that come with hearing loss. Here are some ways to ensure that you're addressing this important aspect:

Sign language skills: acquiring basic proficiency in British Sign Language (BSL) can be transformative for everyone involved. This aids not just the person with hearing loss, but also enriches interaction within the broader social circle. 

The written word: a notepad and pen can be remarkably efficient for quick exchanges. Whether it's a grocery list or a short question, keep writing materials within easy reach at home, in your car, or when you're out and about.

Leverage body language: non-verbal communication like facial expressions and hand gestures can convey substantial meaning. Cultivate an awareness of body language and its potential to enrich conversation.

Text-to-speech software: utilise smartphone apps that translate text to speech or vice versa. These are particularly useful for complex topics where nuance could be lost in simpler modes of communication.

Utilising visual aids: diagrams, photos or even quick sketches can clarify complex ideas when words fall short. These can be useful for both everyday conversations and more technical discussions.

Digital messaging: for conversations requiring deep thought or multiple points, consider using email or instant messaging. This gives both parties the time and space to articulate their ideas more fully.

Quick reference flashcards: creating a set of flashcards for frequent phrases or questions can speed up daily communications. These are especially helpful during the early stages of adjusting to new communication methods.

Point-and-indicate: for quick decisions like picking an item from a menu or selecting a product in a shop, the simple act of pointing can be effective and efficient.

Pre-prepared communication boards: boards featuring regularly used expressions or daily options can simplify routine communications. Pointing to a phrase or activity can get the message across effectively.

Clear and direct speech: for those who retain some level of hearing, articulating words clearly and maintaining eye contact can help. Avoid shouting, as this can make both speech and lip-reading more difficult.

Single speaker rule: in group settings, ensure that only one person talks at a time. This makes it easier for anyone relying on lip-reading or partial hearing to follow the conversation.

Rephrase, don't repeat: if a statement isn't understood the first time, rephrasing it can often be more effective than simple repetition. Different words or lip movements can make the communication clearer.

Professional Help

Engaging with healthcare and other professionals is often the first step in understanding the nuances of hearing loss and how best to manage it. Here’s a guide to the various experts you might consider consulting:

Audiologists: trained in diagnosing and treating hearing and balance issues, audiologists can provide audiograms and discuss viable solutions, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other assistive technologies.

ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists: in some instances, hearing loss could indicate broader medical issues. ENT specialists can diagnose or rule out such conditions and suggest medical or surgical interventions.

Rehabilitation therapists: specialised therapists can help optimise the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants. These professionals usually collaborate closely with audiologists to ensure device efficacy.

Psychologists or counsellors: the emotional toll of hearing loss is substantial, and therapists focusing on trauma or disability can offer coping strategies. Both individual and family therapy can help everyone adjust to changed circumstances.

Speech therapists: for improving lip-reading techniques or exploring other non-verbal communication methods, speech therapists can offer invaluable training.

Occupational therapists: if your job or daily tasks are affected by hearing loss, an occupational therapist can advise on workspace or habit modifications to better accommodate your needs.

Legal counsellors: it’s essential to know your legal rights, especially if you’re a veteran. Advisors with expertise in disability rights can provide guidance on entitlements and workplace accommodations.

Social workers: these experts can help navigate the maze of available social services, disability benefits or other assistance, particularly beneficial for veterans or those newly experiencing hearing loss.

Veterans affairs specialists: if you're a veteran who experienced hearing loss during service, specialists in this area can inform you of specific benefits, entitlements or services that might be available.

Deaf and hard of hearing advocacy services: various organisations offer mental health support, benefits guidance, and connections to support groups and other resources.

Financial advisors: treating hearing loss often incurs considerable expense. Financial planning with an advisor experienced in healthcare costs and disability benefits can assist in budgeting for these needs.

Technological Assistance

Modern technology offers a variety of tools designed to aid those with hearing loss. Here are some of the key types of technology and how they can assist:

Digital hearing aids: customisable to an individual's specific hearing loss pattern, these devices not only amplify sound but also filter out background noise. They're often compatible with other tech devices, such as smartphones.

Cochlear implants: particularly useful for severe hearing loss, these surgically inserted devices enable a different perception of sound that can be extraordinarily beneficial.

Assistive listening devices (ALDs): these can work alone or in tandem with hearing aids to improve specific listening environments, like classrooms or public venues, using FM systems or induction loops.

Real-time captioning services: available via various apps and services, real-time captioning can assist in making phone calls or video conferencing more accessible.

Apps for smart devices: apps can serve multiple functions, from translating speech to text in real-time, to acting as a remote control for hearing aids, and even assisting with cochlear implant calibration.

Videophones and video relay services: enable communication over the phone through sign language or captions, often with a relay assistant to facilitate the conversation.

Text-based alerts: devices for home use, such as doorbells or smoke alarms, now provide visual or tactile alerts as auditory substitutes.

Infrared systems: these transmit audio from TVs directly to hearing aids, providing a more personalised listening experience at home.

Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs): these are more invasive options useful for those unable to use conventional hearing aids due to ear canal issues.

Telecoil systems: often built into hearing aids, these systems can wirelessly connect to public loop systems, enhancing the audibility in public spaces.

Speech-to-text software: ideal for those struggling with telephone conversations, this software can convert spoken words into text in real time.

Personal amplifiers: useful in scenarios where hearing aids may not be ideal, these devices amplify specific sounds to aid listening.

E-books and audiobooks: for leisure, synchronised ebooks and audiobooks can provide both textual and audio content, aiding in comprehension.

Voice-activated home assistants: devices like Alexa or Google Home can be set up to assist in routine tasks, making daily life easier for those dealing with hearing loss.

Emotional Support

Emotional support is a cornerstone of adapting to life with hearing loss. The psychological impact is often just as challenging as the physical limitations, making it vital for the individual and their family to prioritise emotional wellbeing.

Patience in the recovery journey: whether you've lost your hearing or are close to someone who has, this is a transformative period for everyone. The recovery journey will inevitably involve times of confusion, irritation and possibly resentment. Patience becomes vital as each person adapts to this new reality.

Fostering open conversation: the ability to talk openly about emotions, challenges and concerns is essential. Create an environment where both the person with hearing loss and their loved ones can discuss their feelings openly and without judgement.

Walk in each other’s shoes: being empathetic offers invaluable support. Understanding that hearing loss affects the person emotionally and socially, as well as physically, can strengthen the bonds of understanding and compassion among everyone involved.

Ensuring active involvement: inclusion in daily activities and conversations should be a collective effort. Be adaptable in your methods of communication to ensure that no one feels excluded, as this can amplify emotional difficulties.

Positive reinforcement: both the individual who has lost their hearing and their support network need affirmation. Regularly validate each other’s feelings, capabilities and small victories, reinforcing the idea that hearing loss neither defines nor limits anyone’s potential.

Respecting autonomy: it’s important to offer support, but it’s equally crucial to let each other retain as much independence as possible. Over-aiding can sometimes evoke feelings of incapability or reliance, which may be emotionally detrimental.

Consult experts for coping strategies: professional help, including psychologists and counsellors focusing on trauma or disabilities, can offer coping strategies for both individuals with hearing loss and their families. Joint counselling sessions could also be beneficial.

Mindfulness and stress management: for both the individual with hearing loss and their support network, stress relief techniques like guided meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or specialised yoga can be beneficial in managing stress and anxiety.

Celebrate achievements: recognise and celebrate accomplishments, whether it’s mastering a phrase in British Sign Language (BSL) or successfully navigating a social event with hearing assistive technologies. These milestones are vital for maintaining morale.

Expanding the circle of support: a robust support network is not limited to immediate family. Encourage close friends and extended family to become educated and involved. A wider circle of understanding and support improves overall emotional wellbeing.

Talk to Us

At JMW, our specialist team has many years of experience working with members of the military and military reserves to ensure that they get the compensation they deserve after an accident and we can help you too, if you or a loved one has been injured.
​​To receive all the help you need to make an army accident claim, contact our solicitors today. Simply call us on 0345 872 6666 or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

Did you find this post interesting? Share it on:

Related Posts