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How to Communicate with a Hearing-impaired Person

How to communicate with a hearing-impaired person

Hearing loss can hamper the ability to communicate efficiently, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to engage in conversation and interact with people who have impaired hearing. If you have a friend, a relative or a colleague who struggles to hear, this guide will provide useful information about how to communicate effectively. 

Communication tips when talking to individuals with hearing loss

There are several steps you can take to make it easier for somebody who has hearing loss to communicate with you. These include:

  • Facing the individual: when possible, it’s always best to face the person you’re talking to. This will enable them to pick up visual cues and to interpret your body language as you speak. If you’re looking at somebody when you’re talking, it’s also easier to watch the lips, which can aid lip reading. You can also use gestures to give the other person a better idea of what you’re talking about. 
  • Avoid trying to cover long distances: many of us are used to shouting from one room to another when we’re at home. If you can hear perfectly, this might not be a problem, but for those with impaired hearing, trying to cover long distances with your voice may cause issues. The further away you are, the more difficult it is to hear.
  • Speak slowly and clearly: many of us are guilty of talking quickly and mumbling. If you’re speaking to someone who has hearing loss, slow your speech down, pronounce the sounds clearly, and talk louder. Don’t shout or exaggerate every letter, but make a concerted effort to improve clarity. 
  • Address the person by name: if you’re in a meeting at work, or you’re in a group of people, it can be really helpful to start your sentence by addressing the person by name. This will alert them to the fact that you’re talking directly to them, and it helps to prevent them from missing words or phrases at the beginning of the sentence. 
  • Find a quiet place: it can be difficult to hold a conversation in a noisy setting even if you have good hearing. Background noise can distract you and make it tough to keep track of what people are saying. If you’re trying to talk to somebody with a hearing impairment, head for a quiet spot. This will make it easier for both of you to hear without contending against traffic, other voices, or the sound of computers or radios. 
  • Break up sentences: if you’re one of those people that tends to ramble and you rarely come up for breath, try and focus on breaking your sentences and paragraphs up. Stop for pauses between points, and slow down. 
  • Adjust your position if your friend or work colleague has better hearing in one ear: if you have a friend, family member or colleague who has hearing loss, they may have one ear that is better than the other. If this is the case, try and make sure you position yourself on the better side. 
  • Be prepared to rephrase and repeat: we’ve all been in situations where we’re listening to another person talk, and we just can’t seem to get the drift no matter how many times they repeat what they have said. Sometimes, it’s necessary to repeat the phrase or sentence, but often, rephrasing it can be more helpful. If the other person is struggling to make out what you’ve said, use a different way of saying it. 
  • Write down key dates, numbers and facts: if you’re talking, and you’re throwing in dates or facts and figures, it can be difficult to hear, process, and retain this information if you have hearing loss. Write down key information as you go so that the person you’re talking to has a record of the conversation. 
  • Speak clearly on the phone: conversing on the phone can be particularly difficult when you have hearing loss. If you’re making a call to a person who has hearing loss, slow down, speak directly into the mouthpiece, and avoid talking to anyone else while you’re on the phone. If you’re mumbling to another person, or you’re speaking to a pet, for example, this can make it very difficult for the other person to keep track of what’s going on. If you’re calling to convey important information, for example, you’re setting a date for an occasion, or you’ve arranged a meeting, confirm the details via text or email. 

If you have any questions about talking to somebody with hearing loss, or you’re worried about your own hearing, it’s beneficial to seek advice from an audiologist. Call Gavin Audiology and Hearing Aids at 914-631-8777 to talk to our friendly team today.