People with hearing loss have increased difficulty in communicating and have to work harder to understand speech. Hearing loss can also impact people emotionally and socially, and it may even result in reduced intimacy and a feeling of isolation or depression.
Whether you have difficulty hearing or you are conversing with someone who’s hard of hearing, it’s important to set yourself up for success and make sure that both parties can contribute to a conversation and walk away with the same understanding.
Successful communication requires participation from both parties; the speaker and the listener. Use these tips to help keep the conversation flowing.
If you are speaking with a person with hearing loss set the stage and convey your message clearly.
- Get the listener’s attention before speaking, such as a tap on the shoulder or a visual cue like pointing
- Don’t speak to someone from another room
- Remember that just because he/she can hear your voice, it does not mean that they can understand you
- Avoid covering your mouth while talking
- Avoid chewing gum or eating while talking
- Get to a well-lit area and make yourself visible so he/she can see your face
- Speak slowly and clearly, but NOT in slow motion
- Avoid whispering or shouting
- In groups, make sure only one person is talking at a time
- Announce changes in topic of conversation
- When asked to repeat something, use different words to convey the same message
- Ask what you can do to make yourself easier to understand
If you have hearing loss set the stage and communicate when you need clarification.
- Position yourself wisely. Sit near a speaker and away from noise makers
- NO Bluffing - Don’t agree to things you did not hear
- Ask for SPECIFIC repetition when needed. Don’t just say “huh?” or “what?” Ask who, what, where, when or why
- Repeat back key points to make sure you understood what was said
- Be assertive
- Remember that a positive, “can-do” attitude is contagious
- Take advantage of whatever technology you have such as hearing aids, assistive devices (theater, amplified phone) or TV ears or a TV amplifier
- Don’t assume that all miscommunication is the result of your hearing loss
- If you feel frustrated, take a deep breath and be kind to yourself
- Assure the speaker that what they say is important to you, even if you can’t always hear them
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