Sometimes, communicating with someone who has hearing loss can be frustrating – but it’s important to remember that the frustration you are experiencing is likely reciprocated. After all, it’s safe to assert that nobody enjoys having to constantly ask another to repeat him- or herself because they don’t hear them the first time.
Remember that when someone first begins to experience hearing loss, that person can still hear quite a lot, so they don’t realize they are missing anything. In many cases, they are only missing higher-pitched voices and sounds, or they may only find it difficult to hear when there’s a lot of background noise involved.
Even if someone is wearing hearing aids, that doesn’t mean they can hear perfectly. Adjustments can be made to improve your ability to communicate with anyone suffering from hearing loss. Here are our top 10 tips for talking to someone with hearing loss.
10. Make sure you get the listener’s attention before you start talking. Say the person’s name when starting the conversation.
9. Don’t talk with your back to a person with hearing loss. They will get a better sense of what you are saying if they can see your face.
8. Don’t shout. It rarely helps and it gives the impression that you are angry and that doesn’t help. Instead, concentrate on enunciating clearly.
7. Recognize difficult listening situations. If you can, find suitable places for conversation, away from noise and distractions.
6. Speak slowly, but not too slowly. Exaggerated lip movements can make it harder to lip read. It can also be interpreted as condescending and disrespectful – which will be a bar to effective communication.
5. If you are talking to a group that includes both hearing impaired and non-hearing impaired, don’t just focus on just one or the other.
4. Don’t walk away while you are still talking. Your words will often be construed as cut off, coming across as, “I’m going to see if—” , which isolates the listener from the rest of your thought.
3. If someone doesn’t understand what you’ve said, don’t just keep repeating the same thing. They may have missed several phrases leading up to your most recent statement, or have difficulty understanding certain combinations of letters in speech, so what you are repeating has no context or is confusing. Try making your point in a different way instead.
2. If you spend a lot of time together, agree on a discreet signal to warn the hearing-impaired person that he or she is talking too loud. People with hearing loss often cannot hear their own voices well enough to judge its loudness.
1. Be patient and compassionate. Even if you have to repeat yourself, remember, it’s also frustrating for the hearing-impaired person.
If you suspect a loved one has hearing loss, it’s important to talk to them about hearing loss and encourage them to get hearing screenings.