I babysit some Monday nights. One of the kids is 6 and wears hearing aids, like I do. But after talking to her and her mom, I discovered that her hearing loss is mild. She can go without her hearing aids and responds fairly well when I give her instructions - even when she is not facing me to read lips. I have a friend who lost her hearing after her daughter went to college. She's tried learning sign language and to speech read, but it's been a struggle.
Hearing loss isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. The level of hearing loss (mild, moderate or profound), how old someone was when they lost their hearing, whether they were the only deaf/hard of hearing person in their family or not, how much support they've had in their hearing loss journey, - there are so many factors that make hearing loss unique for each person who lives with it. Some wear cochlear implants, some wear hearing aids and still others find neither of those to be viable options. Some people prefer to sign, others to voice for themselves. Some are good speech readers and others not so much.
I always appreciate it when someone asks me how they can best communicate with me. For reasons I've never understood myself, I get uncomfortable when someone I don't know tries to sign to me. I guess I don't like the assumption that just because I wear hearing aids, I must not be capable of speech. I'm not sure every single person I run into really thinks that and hello, we've established that I am She Who Thinks Too Much, so it's entirely possible that I over analyze it when someone shows me that they know the phrase "thank you" in sign language. Buuuuut still. I'd rather someone ask me how I prefer to communicate rather than offer a solution that might not fit my needs or personality.
And now I'm finding the road goes both ways. For a long time, I was the only hard of hearing person I knew. But now that I'm spending more time with other deaf and hard of hearing people, I'm convicted about my own need to accommodate others. Isn't that funny? All these years, I've been thinking about what I need other people to do in order to accommodate me that I forget there are things that I can do to make communication easier for others. For example, I want to be a more natural and comfortable signer just because there are now some people in my life for whom signing is their primary mode of communication. I also need to do a better job of remembering the simplest things like turning so that someone can see my face or not obstructing their view of whoever is speaking. Things I want to educate people to do but fail to remember myself (Oh hey, hypocrisy, how are you?). Guess I still have a lot to learn myself! ;)