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Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss - Hearing, Balance and Speech Center

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, and the theme for 2019 is ‘Communication Across the Lifespan’. Hearing loss can make communication difficult, but it doesn’t have to! To help you communicate across the lifespan, here are our tips for communicating with hearing loss. These tips work if you have a hearing loss, or if you’re communicating with someone with a hearing loss.

General tips

Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. One of the worst things for somebody with a hearing loss to be told is ‘never mind, just forget it’. Please be patient and willing to improve your communication skills. Often simple adjustments make all the difference.

Check understanding. When face to face, eye contact, facial or hand gestures are useful for illuminating confusion or confirming understanding. Try to avoid sunglasses and exaggerating these gestures. If you are not face to face, simply ask: ‘can you understand me okay?

Face to Face

Gain the attention of other person. Say their name or gently touch their arm. Ensure they are paying attention to you before you start talking.

Be sure to face the other person. According to Mehrabian's theory, only 7% of communication is about the words used. 38% is the tone used and the remaining 55% is about body language such as visual cues and gestures. No wonder it’s so important to see the person’s face, mouth and hands!

Positioning matters. If one ear is better than the other, make sure your good ear is directed towards to the conversation. Find a well lit space and avoid as much background noise as possible. Avoid open spaces with high ceilings; look for sound absorbing soft furnishings such as carpets and curtains. Try smaller groups of people for better communication.

Don’t exaggerate volume or pronounciation. Did you know that some words such as ‘August’ are harder to lip-read than others such as ‘March’? It can actually spoil the rhythm of speech making it harder to understand if you over pronounce, excessively slow down or shout.

Assistance is available. If at a public venue, look for hearing loop technologies. Also, research amplification products and the settings/features on your hearing aid.

On the phone

Practice good technique. Speak clearly and directly into the mouthpiece. Make sure background noise is at a minimum. Start by clarifying who is calling and why, be patient as the telephone can be very challenging with a hearing loss.

Hearing loss doesn’t have to prevent you from communicating. Simple tips can help, and assistive listening devices can provide further assistance. If you suspect that you may be suffering from a hearing loss, take our quick hearing test online. Then, book an appointment with the hearing care specialists at Hearing Balance & Speech.

Throughout the month of May, we’re offering complimentary hearing assessments in honor of Better Hearing & Speech. Don’t delay booking in your assessment. Please call 1-800-HEAR-IT-1 or click here to request an appointment online.

Research / Sources

  1. https://www.asha.org/bhsm/
  2. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/communicating_with_people_with_hearing_loss/
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4050-hearing-loss-tips-to-improve-communication-with-people-with--hearing-loss
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Mehrabian