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Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

a brown-haired woman touching her ear

Hearing loss will change the way people can communicate. The person with hearing loss will need to modify how they communicate, friends and family members can also adjust how they communicate. Here are some great tips for you to be able to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing co-workers, family and friends. 

Attention

It is important that you have the attention of the person you are talking to. If you have called through from another room or begun a conversation and then walked away, you may not have the person’s attention. 

Some ways to get people’s attention are by saying their name, tapping them on the arm or a simple hand gesture. You should also pay attention to the person you are talking to. Follow their facial expressions and body language.

This will give you an indicator if they are having a challenging time listening to you. If you notice that they have a quizzical expression, you can repeat what you have said and ask questions to make sure everything has been understood. 

One of the most important things that you can do is remain face to face with the person you are communicating with. Keeping eye contact will help people know that you are talking to them and support the use of facial expressions and lip-reading. Facial expressions play a huge role in communication. 

Sometimes we might absent-mindedly place our head in our hands or cover our mouth when we talk. It is essential that you notice these behaviors and avoid them. Covering your face and mouth can muffle the sounds that you make it can be very difficult to hear. We also know that facial expressions are a crucial indicator of feeling and nuances. Covering your face and mouth absent-mindedly can obscure facial expressions. 

Speaking

There is no need to shout, but you should be conscious of how naturally you are speaking. Keep a slightly slower speed as you talk, and also be mindful of your pronunciation. Your lip movements will help to fill in any gaps in the hearing. Shouting changes how your mouth makes sounds and can also make lip reading more complicated. 

Many people have a better ear, and it is essential that you speak to the good one. This can enhance the amount that the person with hearing loss can hear. Not everyone with hearing impairments will want to discuss which ear has better hearing. If you aren’t in a position to ask, then try to notice if the person tilts their good ear towards you. 

There are many letters, words and numbers that are incredibly close in sound and mouth shape. This can lead to misunderstandings. If you have been asked to repeat yourself twice in the same sentence, then it is time to rephrase how you say something. Throughout a conversation, you need to ensure you ask questions that clarify the topic and be sure that your message is very clear. 

Excess noise

If there is a lot of noise around you, it will be more difficult to communicate well. Background noises can make listening challenging as they can make noise muddy. If you are in the home, turn off the TV or radio or lower the volume to a more suitable level. While out in a restaurant or other social area, it is more important that you face the person you are communicating with. Or find a quieter spot to have a conversation. 

Patience

One of the critical things you need when communicating with a person who has a hearing impairment is patience. Be aware that conversation may take a little longer, and from time to time, there may be some miscommunications. Repeating yourself is part of the learning journey, and over time you will find the best words to use. 

It is common for both parties to become frustrated from time to time. However, this is short-lived when you approach the conversation with respect. Remember that your friend, family member or co-worker will navigate the world slightly differently with a hearing impairment. You can make them feel more comfortable in work or social situations by using the communication tips above. 

If you want to discuss your own hearing health or how you can effectively communicate with others, then get in touch with The Speech & Hearing Center at 423-622-6900. Our staff is well-versed at helping you get the technology you need to hear better, as well as communication tips to make the most of your conversations.