Improved hearing requires more than simply hearing aids.
Better communication strategies can smooth the period of adjustment required when individuals start wearing hearing aids, and can help reassure both the person with hearing loss and their family members or loved ones that they’re being understood clearly.
If you suspect or know that the person you are speaking with has a hearing loss, please consider the following tips to enhance communication:
Communication Tips for Friends and Family
- Get the person’s attention before you speak.
- Face the person directly, on the same level whenever possible.
- Make sure the light is shining on your face, not in the eyes of the person with impaired hearing.
- Do not talk from another room; if you must, make sure the person has heard you call him and tell him what room you are in.
- Do not shout. Words spoken a bit more slowly are clearer than those that are shouted.
- Keep your hands away from your face while talking.
- If you are eating, chewing or smoking while talking, your speech will be more difficult to understand.
- Whenever possible, minimize background noise. Anticipate and avoid high noise areas. For example, avoid sitting next to the kitchen or cash register in a busy restaurant. Tables around the edge of a restaurant tend to be quieter than those in the center of the room, and sitting in a booth is generally quieter than a table.
- If the person has difficulty understanding some particular phrase of word, try to find a different way to say the same thing.
- Avoid talking too rapidly or using sentences that are too complex and long. Slow down a bit; pause between sentences or phrases; wait to make sure you have been understood before going on.
- If you are giving specific information, such as time or place, be sure the person with impaired hearing repeats it back to you. Many numbers and words sound and look alike.
- Avoid sudden changes of topics, and if possible, give clues when changing the subject. If the topic changes tell the person with impaired hearing, “we are talking about __________ now.”
- Don’t drop your voice at the end of sentences.
- Be patient, positive, and relaxed. When in doubt, ask the hearing impaired person for suggestions to improve communication.
Communication Tips for a Hearing Impaired Person
- Pick the best location to communicate by avoiding areas that are poorly lit and very noisy.
- Anticipate difficult situations and plan how to minimize problems.
- Tell others how best to talk to you.
- Pay attention to the speaker.
- Look for visual clues to what is being said.
- Ask for written clues of key words if needed.
- Provide feedback if you understand or fail to understand.
- Do not bluff.
- Arrange for frequent breaks if discussion or meetings are long.
- Provide feedback to the speaker by saying how well he or she is doing.
- Try not to interrupt too often.
- Set realistic goals about what you can expect to understand.
If you or someone you care about remains uncertain if they are experiencing a treatable level of hearing loss, take our online hearing assessment quiz to test your hearing, or contact us to schedule a complete hearing consultation.