Hearing Loss: Tips for Better Communication
When we communicate, we share ideas, feelings and information with others; usually by speaking and listening. If an individual has a hearing loss, verbal communication can be a challenge. Words or sentences may be misunderstood, and wrong messages received.
Effective communication involves active participation by both listener and speaker. The following tips can be used to enhance communication with those who have hearing loss.
Tips for the speaker:
*Get the listener’s attention before speaking.
*Be at the listener’s eye level…stand, sit or kneel.
*Stay out of the shadows. Keep the light in your face.
*Avoid chewing gum, eating or drinking while talking.
*Stay put…don’t move around while talking.
*Keep important messages short and to the point.
*Repeat or rephrase important messages.
Tips for the listener:
*Tell people you have a hearing loss.
*Use visual information (facial expressions, gestures) to enhance the message.
*Do not pretend to understand when you do not.
*Ask the speaker to repeat, rephrase or confirm what you heard.
*Ask the speaker to speak slower/louder/softer or to face you.
*Carry a pen and pad. Ask to have important information (phone numbers, appointments) written down.
*When possible, have a “listening buddy”, someone who can review the speaker’s message with you.
Tips for the environment:
*When possible, find a quiet, comfortable and well lit area for conversation.
*When dining out:
-Sit with noise behind you and face the speaker.
-Choose times that are less busy to avoid crowd noise.
-Pick restaurants that have areas that are sectioned off. This helps control noise.
*In very noisy areas, keep conversation at a minimum. Save it for another time and place.
*When at home turn off the television, radio, dishwasher, etc. during conversations.
These tips are supported by studies of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and help increase the awareness of the communication difficulties of individuals with hearing loss. This information is helpful regardless of hearing aid use. Further information is available on the ASHA website, http://www.asha.org/public/.