Communicating with People who Have Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HISLeave a Comment

Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HIS
Latest posts by Jack Felix, ACA, BC, HIS (see all)

If you have noticed someone close to you asking you to repeat yourself more than normal or complaining that you mumble there is a good chance that they may be struggling with the onset of hearing loss. If a loved one, friend or co-worker has recently been displaying signs or diagnosed with hearing loss, it can be a challenge to understand the most effective way to communicate with them. Amending the way you speak can help make their communication easy and stress free for both of you. 

Communication is a “two-way street”

A conversation happens between at least two individuals, one speaking and one actively listening. If one person is struggling with hearing loss, with or without hearing aids it is important to take a few steps to make sure what you are saying can be registered. 

Get their attention

When someone struggles with hearing loss it can be hard for them to realize that you are attempting to communicate, as listening takes extra effort on their part. If you make sure they are ready to listen before you begin speaking, they can actively listen to what you are saying. If you know someone hears better from one ear rather than the other, you can make sure to speak to them towards their good ear. If appropriate, you can try touching their arm or shoulder gently to get their attention before you begin speaking. Another method that can give people with hearing disability an advantage is to make sure they are looking at you before you begin to speak. Not only will this ensure that they are paying attention but it also aids the listener with visual cues, helping to further explain the speaker’s intent. Facial expressions can relay excitement, frustration, sarcasm and more.

Make sure your face is unobstructed

Many people with hearing loss rely on lip reading to supplement what they may be missing audibly. This is also referred to as speech-reading and makes it easier for the hearing impaired to pick up sound in noisy settings picking up certain syllables. Particularly consonants like “s” and “c” can be hard to hear but easy to speech read. Make sure that there is ample lighting on your face and that your hands aren’t obstructing your mouth when you speak.  Thick beards and mustaches can cause an extra hurtle when people attempt to lip read.  In the time where many are wearing facemasks, this can add an extra challenge in public. 

Annunciate not Exaggerate

Don’t overcompensate because someone you are speaking with has hearing loss, as this can only cause more confusion. Speak clearly, annunciating your words, but don’t over exaggerate. No need to shout, as this can actually degrade sound for the listener. Rather than speak too slowly make sure to pause between sentences to give the listener time to comprehend. 

Rephrase rather than repeat

It can be tiring for anyone to constantly repeat what they’ve just said. Practice rephrasing what you said rather than repeat. This uses different sounds and inflection to explain the same concept, giving the earlier statement context. 

Avoid background noise

Make sure to eliminate as much background noise as possible if you know you are speaking to someone with hearing loss. If there is music or a TV in the background turn it down or off so the listener won’t have to struggle as much to hear. If you are having trouble communicating in a noisy setting, suggest moving to a quieter space to speak. Sometimes a party or restaurant can be the worst place to try to have an important conversation with someone with hearing loss.

The power of written word

If you can’t move to a better environment for hearing you can always rely on writing out or texting conversation. There are several apps, which translate speech so you can speak, even in noisy places.

How to succeed with hearing loss

In most cases, hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. They amplify the sound around you and send it directly to your ear canal so you can hear the nuances of conversation you may have become used to missing. If someone you love is struggling with hearing loss it is time to set up a hearing test. Our team can determine the extent of your hearing loss and find the best hearing aids to make communication a breeze. Contact us today!

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