Most people don't know sign language. I know only a few signs; I certainly can't hold a conversation. Since my fall from my scooter in June (thanks for all the good wishes...I'm walking just fine now), my hearing in my right ear is almost gone.
As a former musician, I could hear flies buzz in another city. Over the last 10 years, I've been limited to flies in the same room as me. Lately, I can't even hear my cat purr next to my head on the right side.
I attended a meeting where the executive speaking had his hand over his mouth. I panicked because suddenly I didn't understand what he was saying! Seems I've been lip reading.
Which begs the question, how do those of us with hearing impairments function at large events where the noise level is high and we can't understand half of what's said to us? I now miss names, questions and certainly if you come up on my right side (but out of my peripheral vision), I tend to scream in fright as you grab my arm :-)
Part of the onus is on me to explain that I'm unable to hear well. Yes, that gets tiresome for me but the person to whom I'm speaking is hearing it for the first time. I also fake 'hearing' since the conversation in large events is rarely in-depth or very personal. A smile and nod goes a long way. I make a note to follow up with the folks I found interesting and talk with them in a quieter setting after the event.
I'm starting to feel like my deafness is like being short... can't hear properly... can't see over anyone's head (usually I can tell you if they're wearing deodorant though)...but I like people and a smile goes a long way in a loud room and I'm able to slip through a crowd pretty quickly.
Because it's not likely that my ear or the noise level of events will change.