June 6, 2010

If You Are Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing, Mirrors Can Be Your Best Friends: Advocate For Yourself At The Salon, Spa, Or Barber

If you are a person with deafness and you get your hair cut or receive a back massage from someone who wants to have a conversation with you, it can be an uncomfortable experience. Especially when you are getting your hair done or cut, and you have to take off your hearing aid or cochlear implant. It is uncomfortable because you will have trouble hearing the person behind you or not within your eye sight, if you rely on lip reading. Most deaf and hard of hearing people rely on lip reading whether they realize it or not. So you may nod and smile your way through it, laughing on cue. Or you may simply say that you will be unable to participate in the conversation because of your hearing loss and the person servicing you will be quiet and will make sure to shout when he or she has a question or an important comment. Or they may continue to blab away.

Here are some tips for those in these types of situations wanting to engage and interact with the person who has to stand behind you or out of your eye sight:
  • First, tell the person that you have a hearing loss or that you are deaf. 
  • Explain to them that it is not volume, but clarity that is important. Tell them that you need to see their face. 
  • Teach them some signs or visual cues if you know any. 
  • Then take advantage of the mirrors that are available. Make sure you face the mirror and have the person be in the mirror. Now you can see the person and you may be able to converse with them or at least understand more of what they are saying.
These are simple ways one can advocate for themselves when they find themselves in these types of situations and want to engage in conversations with the person working with them. 

If someone refuses to comply or make the adjustments you need, go somewhere else and be sure to file a complaint with the manager.



  1. I hate going for a hair cut. Before I settled on a barber, I tried a few different places out. I'd leave my hearing aids in so I could explain how I wanted my hair cut, and inevitably the person would say "could you take your ear things out?".

    I try to go when I know there will be other people waiting, so the barber will talk to someone else instead of me. It's not that I don't socialise, but this is the one time I hate awkward silence. Without my hearing aids, you're talking at me instead of to me.

    As for the mirror... it helps but lipreading is tiring and I still miss a lot. And really all I want is a haircut, not a new best friend. At least now I have a barber who knows how to cut my hair, and doesn't try to have long conversations with me.

  2. Haha, try the soundbooth when the aud tells you to take your h-aid off to get your ears tested, then trys to talk to you in the sound booth while putting on headphones and stuff, standing behind you. Lucky though, the slightly darkened mirrors allow for reflection/lipreading.

  3. I am not too bad having hair cuts since it is my mum's friend who comes and does it and whilst she's cutting my hair, MTV is usually on and her and mum are always talking and watching tv so they don't need to talk to me. I HATE HATE having my eyes covered though, especially when have to remove my hearing equipment.
    When I am talking to my mum in the other room, i do use the glass door window to be able to tell what she is saying LOL!

  4. I really like your tips and this topic.
    This has been my experience - I have to take my eyeglasses off for the cut so lipreading in the mirror won't work as I'm nearsighted. When I try to turn my head to look at the hairdresser, she always says "Don't move your head!" On top of that the last two hairdressers I've had didn't even believe I have a hearing loss because I take my hearing aids out ahead of time and I speak clearly.
    I find hearing the price at the end is the most challenging of all. Especially in an environment with blowdryers, etc...
    I may have to go to Lissa's solution of having someone cut my hair in their home or mine.

  5. I go to a very small salon and on days when there is hardly a soul there, a lot of times it is just me and the hairdresser. Other salons, with the constant noise of hairdryers, people yakking away and even people just walking around gave me a headache. Not ideal places for deaf or hard of hearing people who like to chat with whoever is serving them or will have to communicate with whomever under those circumstances. Often then I would tell them that I have a hearing loss and would read a magazine choosing not to engage in conversations. But, being the social person I can be, there are times that I wanted to converse with the hairdresser or whoever is working with me. So where I get my haircut now is ideal. Maybe arranging getting your hair cut at home would be the best solution. But, for me, I like the experience of going to a salon. :)


  6. Hi there my friend posted this page on face book as she thought I would be intresting for me. Im a hairdresser. Many of my clients are seniors and hard of hearing. I did a blow dry ths morning on a lady who has a coclear implant. I have found the varous comments intresting. if any one has suggestions for hair dressers please post them. I would be intrested to to read them and inprove my service to people cheers jinie


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