Listener’s Fatigue

By Jennifer Brown

My name is Jennifer Brown, I have a severe to profound hearing loss with a hearing aid in my left ear and a cochlear implant on my right. We are starting a brand-new semester of school and I am currently a computing engineering student at the College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I wanted to share my experience as a hard of hearing student who is studying in the trades in hopes of helping others who may be interested in studying the technology field.

Like all programs you do, I’ve had my fair share of struggles in this program – such as understanding the massive amount of information within an hour, or two or even four hours in a class. What I want to talk about is Listener’s Fatigue, it is a phenomenon that occurs after a prolonged exposure to auditory stimulus. It is the thing that I struggle with the most and I do know that I am not alone in this, neither are you!

I’m sure that we all were at one point in our lives, probably more than once, have found ourselves in a position where you are just exhausted from listening; whether in a crowd at a loud party, family dinners or being in a classroom for hours on end straight. In my program, I am currently taking a seven – course load which is required for me to continue. I have a few classes where I am in the same room, taking in all new information for 4 hours. It is a lot to handle but there are ways that I have learned that might help you.

First things first, make sure you have a talk with all your instructors about your accommodations. They are there to help you, they want to see you succeed, if you are willing to put an effort into your work. I’ve had a lot of amazing instructors who I can easily share my frustration regarding the courses simply because I couldn’t get it, but they helped me a lot. Instructors have provided the course notes that I could use to review ahead of time, extra worksheets for me to practice on as well as providing me videos that would be shown in class so I could be prepared. You can help yourself overcome Listener’s Fatigue in these ways; giving yourself time to review the new materials before class helps a lot. This allows you to review the information prior to class so it will not be all new information. This also gives you the opportunity to search for any hints that are given in the lectures for your exams.

In my program I have a lot of labs where I am working with lab partners and it does tend to get noisy due to a lot of discussion in the room. I have been in the position where I could simply not understand what is happening or what my partner was saying. It is important to have an understanding partner, however, not everyone will have that but developing a better relationship with your lab instructors as well as your partner can help. In a case where you can’t understand your partner – talk to your instructor and explain to them that you are struggling to understand your partner. Advocating is a skill that I’ve developed thanks to the leadership programs that CHHA had provided when I was younger, and I still very much use it to this day.

In the end of the day, it is your education. We may have to take a different route to get our education, but we arrive at the finish line like everyone else.