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Communicating with People with Hearing Loss

a man eating dinner with his family

Hearing loss is common, but still remains seemingly invisible to many people in society today. In fact, millions of people have hearing loss, so it is essential to understand how to communicate well with them. This means familiarizing yourself with tips and tricks you can utilize to help the conversation go more smoothly – for both you and them.

Courtesy is fundamental

It is so important to be considerate to those with hearing loss, especially when it comes to communication. Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself, rather than ignoring or avoiding them. As we speak people can gain an insight into what we are saying not only by the words we say, but also by our gestures and expressions. People with hearing loss often find that visual cues are extremely helpful when they are having conversations with others. Therefore, you may be able to accommodate a person with hearing loss by using useful gestures to complement the conversation.

Expressions and gestures

Those who can lip read will gain a lot of information from the hand gestures and facial expressions of the speaker. Do what you would normally do when speaking and try not to over exaggerate your movements as this can be confusing to decipher if it’s different than your normal body cues. Shouting will not help the recipient either and it will make them feel quite uncomfortable. You don’t want to ruin the natural rhythms and tones of your voice by shouting and over pronouncing words unnecessarily. Full sentences are mostly necessary, but it will depend on who you are communicating with. If you’re speaking with a close friend or family member you may be able to use more familiar terms and phrases that have meaning to you both. Otherwise, it is best to talk in full sentences as they are more comprehensible.

The key to communication 

It is important to enhance the way you speak to someone with hearing loss, by doing a number of different things. First of all, you may want to find a quieter spot to talk to them, if you can. If there are large crowds or other distracting noises it can be very difficult for a person with hearing loss to take in all the details you are saying. You may also want to position yourself in a well-lit room, so that they can see your face clearly. People with hearing loss are often very good at lip reading, so it can really help them to see your face and expressions.

If you need to get their attention, try not to call their name or tap them from behind; tap them on the arm or shoulder by positioning yourself in front of them so they are not startled. You may want to ask them where they think the best position is in a room for them. Allow them to guide you to an appropriate place, as everyone’s preferences will be completely different.

If you’re a manager or work with a person with hearing loss, they may wish to position themselves near the speaker during a meeting. There are also many useful tools available now such as hearing loop systems and personal amplifiers.

Make eye contact 

As with any conversation, eye contact is very important for both speakers. When you can see their eyes, it makes the entire communication process much more personal. Try to avoid wearing sunglasses when you’re speaking to someone with hearing loss. You should also avoid covering your mouth too, as this makes it very tricky to lip read.

Repetition

There may be times when you need to repeat a sentence or phrase several times, this is even more likely if you are in a noisy environment or room. You may even need to try rephrasing the sentence to make it less wordy and easier to understand. Some words are more difficult to lip read than others so consider this when you’re speaking. Allow the person time to process what you have said and do not rush onto another topic too quickly. Similarly, you should never walk away until you have both acknowledged that your communication has ended.

Get in touch today

If you have hearing loss or you know somebody who has, you'll want to learn more about Listen Hear Diagnostics. Visit our website for more information or call us at 347-450-9872. We are always here to answer any questions you may have.