Tips for Communicating with the Hard of Hearing
When talking to someone who is hard of hearing it’s important to make sure you follow some good practices to better improve the communication between you both. We want to try and make it as easy as possible for those with hearing loss to feel included in a conversation and most importantly their voices heard.
While many people who are hard of hearing have the ability to lip-read it’s not always easy, it takes a lot of energy and can be frustrating. We should follow these simple practices to help improve communication between ourselves and our loved ones with hearing loss.
Get their attention
The very first thing to do before initiating any type of conversation with someone who is hard of hearing is to ensure you have their full attention. If you start to talk without them being aware you are aiming the words at them then you will find yourself repeating yourself all over again. Try starting every conversation with their name or gently tapping them on the arm.
Approach from the front or side
Try not to approach them from behind as to avoid startling them. Never tap them from behind and instead always make sure you are face to face or at their side before initiating a conversation. When you are in either position you can gently tap them on the arm to let them know you’re about to speak.
Pick a quiet moment
People who have hearing loss will struggle to follow any conversation no matter what approach you take if there is a lot of noise or distraction in your proximity. Try to always communicate with them in a quiet spot where they will have the best chance of hearing what you have to say. This goes for cafes and restaurants too.
Speak face to face
When communicating with a person with hearing loss its always best to speak face to face. This allows them to see your lips and get a better idea of what’s being said. Lipreading is difficult at the best of times, ensuring you are still and directly in front of them makes it that bit easier. It’s also just good manners.
Don’t mumble or speak too softly or too loudly. It’s best to speak at clear and loud enough volume so that they can hear you as best as possible. Don’t speak too softly or too fast either. It’s easy to fall back into your normal speaking voice so try to maintain a clear voice as much as possible.
Check they understand
If you continue to talk for hours on end without checking first that the person understands you then you may have just wasted a lot of time. When first initiating a conversation make sure they can understand you and if you feel at any point, they may be struggling to hear you check again. Simply ask them can you still hear me ok.
Keep it down
One thing that frustrates those with hearing loss is when people speak extremely loud at them. There is no need to shout plus if they are wearing a hearing aid it can be extremely uncomfortable for them.
Never say it doesn’t matter
If the person who is hard of hearing says they didn’t understand something you said this is the last thing you should reply with. It’s disheartening for anyone with hearing loss to hear these three words. Be patient and always repeat yourself more clearly no matter how important your words were.
Don’t turn away
It’s easy to turn away while speaking to a person hard of hearing but if you do this, they will struggle to follow the conversation and you may find yourself repeating yourself again. As hard as it may be, try to stay in one position and speak clearly towards the person so they can see you. Try not to cover your mouth with your hands or eat while talking.
Speak to the person, not the support
If the person your speaking to has communication support such as a sign language interpreter, it’s respectful to always look at the person you are speaking to. Otherwise, you will your conversation will be with the language interpreter and the person with hearing loss might feel disheartened.
Learn some sign language
If you have someone in your family or a friend who has hearing loss one of the best things you can do is to learn some sign language to help better communicate with each other. They will be extremely grateful if you did and your relationship will be that much stronger.
What else can help?
Come learn more about Hear for You Hearing & Balance Center and how we can help you and your loved ones that have hearing loss. We offer a number of services including hearing tests and hearing aid advice. Speak to one of our audiologists at 401-475-6116 for help and guidance for any hearing needs.