Communicating with people with hearing loss is often difficult and frustrating for BOTH sides of the conversation. Here we have provided some tips to help.
Tips for people with hearing loss
- Don’t guess what people are saying: Don’t deny your hearing difficulties. It is much better to be perceived as ‘hard of hearing’ than as someone with a lessened mental capacity.
- Stay Positive: A positive attitude shown to people you communicate with will greatly improve their willingness to meet you half way.
- Ask for help, the right way: You could say: “Can you speak up… you are not speaking clearly enough”. But you will get a better response if you say: “Sorry, I have a little trouble hearing. Could you speak up a little?”
- Be specific in the help you ask for: Be specific when explaining how others can help.
- Tell them you can miss things if you don’t know who is talking
- Ask them to get your attention before they start to talk.
- Explain when it becomes hard to hear more than one person talking at the same time.
- Tell them that you read lips, so it’s important for you to be able to see their face.
- If you didn’t hear something, don’t just say “What?” or “Huh?”. Tell them what you DID hear and ask them to repeat the part you missed. For example say: “I heard you are going on a trip, but I missed when you are leaving.”
- Pick your best spot: Choose a position that’s quiet and has good lighting. If you hear better in your left ear, consider that when choosing your position. Say, “I don’t hear well in noisy situations. Can we move over to this quiet corner?”
- Pay attention:Concentrate on the speaker. Even people with normal hearing use visual cues of facial expressions, body language and lip movement to help them understand better.
- Show appreciation: When someone goes out of their way to help you, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their help.
Tips when talking to someone with hearing difficulties
- Be supportive: Accompany someone with hearing loss to their hearing evaluation and other hearing care appointments. As you are doing now, improving your knowledge about hearing loss also leads to better communication and understanding.
- Get the listeners attention: Say the person’s name before you start talking to get their attention.
- Do not shout! Shouting distorts the face and makes you look angry.
- Speak clearly and moderately: Say the “ends” of all your words. Rather than “How’r ya feelin t’day?” say “How are you feeling today?”
- Do not cover your mouth: Objects in front of the mouth, or food in the mouth, impede speech-reading.
- Use gestures when talking: Gestures help with understanding. For example, if asking “what time isit?”, point to your watch.
- Rephrase rather than repeat: If you were not understood the first time, try saying it a different way.
- Be patient: It is just as frustrating for the people with hearing loss as it is for you when there is a breakdown in understanding; share the responsibility.
- Reduce background noise
- Turn off radio / television / stereo.
- Suggest moving to a quiet location.
- Reduce the distance between you and the listener.
- Do not try to talk to the person from a different room.
- Good lighting is essential.
- Light should be on the speaker’s face, not shining into the listener’s eyes.
- Listeners with hearing loss draw visual cues from the lips and face, as well as gestures.
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