Successful communication requires the efforts of all people involved in a conversation. Even when the person with a hearing loss utilizies hearing aids and active listening strategies, it is crucial that other involved in the communication process consistently use good communication strategies.
Communicating with People with Hearing Loss
Face the hearing impaired person directly, on the same level and in good light whenever possible. Position yourself so that the light is shining on the speaker's face.
Do not talk from another room. Not being able to see each other when talking is a common reason people have difficulty understanding what is said.
Speak clearly, slowly, distinctly, but naturally, without shouting or exaggerating mouth movements. Shouting distorts the sound of speech and may make speech reading more difficult. Raising your voice and shouting at someone are two different things.
Say the person's name before beginning a conversation. This gives the listener a chance to focus attention and reduces the chance of missing words at the beginning of a conversation.
Provide pertinent information in writing.
Avoid situations where there will be loud sounds when possible. Some people with hearing loss are very sensitive to loud sounds.
Keep your hands away from your face while talking. If you are eating, chewing, smoking, etc. while talking, your speech will be more difficult to understand. Beards and mustaches can also interfere with the ability of the hearing impaired to speech read.
Know where to position yourself. If the hearing impaired listener hears better in one ear than the other, try to make a point of remembering which ear is better so that you can be in an ideal location.
Be aware of the distance you are from the listener. The ideal distance for the communication is three to five feet from the listener.
Avoid talking too rapidly or using sentences that are too complex. Slow down a little, pause between sentences or phrases, and wait to make sure you have been understood.
Be aware of possible distortion of sounds for the hearing impaired person. They may hear your voice, but still may have difficulty understanding some words.
Try to minimize extraneous noise when talking. Most hearing impaired people have greater difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise.
Try to find a different way to say the same thing rather than repeating the original words over and over.
Acquaint the listener with the general topic of the conversation. Avoid sudden changes of topic. If the subject is changed, tell the hearing impaired person what you are talking about now. In a group setting, repeat questions or key facts before continuing.
Have them repeat the specifics back to you if you are giving specific information-such as time, place or phone numbers-to someone who is hearing impaired. Many numbers and words sound alike.
Recognize that everyone, especially the hard-of-hearing, has a harder time hearing or understanding when ill or tired.
Pay attention to the listener. A puzzled look may indicate misunderstanding. Tactfully ask the hearing impaired person if they understood you.
Be sensitive. Hearing loss can trigger negative emotions for listeners. Be aware of how your communication partner feels.
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