9 Tips For Communicating Effectively With People With Hearing Loss

communicating effectively with people with hearing loss

It’s Better Hearing and Speech Month, one of our favorite months of the year. Why? Simply because there’s a concentrated effort to raise awareness about communication disorders and how treatment for these conditions can help those who live with hearing loss.

For example, we work with people every single day who have difficulty communicating with others because of hearing loss. While we know that hearing loss treatment is often an effective way to improve their quality of life, events such as Better Hearing and Speech Month can help friends and family members learn a little more about what these individuals face.

With this year’s theme being ‘connecting people’, it’s a great time to share some strategies for communicating effectively with people with hearing loss. After all, meaningful conversation is one way we all connect with the people around us on a daily basis. Here are some tips offered by the Cleveland Clinic – we’ve seen them work well for many of our clients!

How to Communicate Effectively With People With Hearing Loss

#1: Get their attention before you speak.

Remember that unless you’re talking to yourself, every conversation involves at least two people. When you’re talking to someone with hearing loss, give them an indication that they’re going to be part of your conversation. Before you start in with your message, get their attention first. You can do this by saying their name or touching their hand to get them to turn towards you.

#2: Speak from their ‘good’ side, if they have one.

Some people have unilateral hearing loss, or hearing loss in one ear. Others have varying degrees of hearing loss between ears. If the person you’re speaking to has one side with better hearing than the other, move to that side so they’ll be able to hear you better.

#3: Make and maintain eye contact during the conversation.

Whenever possible, look directly at the person with hearing loss and maintain eye contact with them throughout your conversation. Effective communication also involves being able to see body language and facial expressions, something that’s made easier when you’re looking directly at your conversation partner.

#4: Keep your face clear.

Some people have the bad habit of talking with their hands in front of their face. To communicate effectively with someone with hearing loss, however, you must keep your face clear. Things like a heavy beard or mustache, or talking with your hands in front of your mouth can muffle sound and also block visual cues. Along the same lines, be sure to keep the inside of your mouth clear as well. Talking while chewing food or gum can distort sounds and make it difficult for others to hear or understand your words.

#5: Use natural speech patterns.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to shout in order to communicate effectively with people with hearing loss. You may increase the volume of your voice some but be sure to speak naturally. Don’t over exaggerate your words or speak too slowly. Rather, speak at a normal pace with a few intermittent pauses to allow time for the other person to process what’s being said.

#6: Repeat once and then rephrase.

One of the most common signs of hearing loss is asking others to repeat themselves. In conversations, however, simply repeating what you already said may not make someone with hearing loss be able to understand you any better. You can start by repeating yourself once. If that doesn’t work, try rephrasing your message with different words. Sometimes it’s not that the message wasn’t heard but rather, it wasn’t processed. Rephrasing can help with this.

#7: Reduce background noise.

Communicating effectively with people with hearing loss often involves removing any extraneous factors that could influence their ability to hear. Even if they have the best hearing aids, they may still have difficulty filtering out background noise. Whether you’re conversing at a restaurant or sitting around your kitchen table, do what you can to limit, reduce, or eliminate as much background noise as possible. Then, the individual with hearing loss will be better able to focus on the conversation at hand.

#8: Pay attention to lighting.

Remember how visual cues and body language can help with understanding conversation? Those won’t be seen if you’re conversing in an area with dim lighting, such as at a restaurant. Whenever and wherever possible, sit where there is good lighting so your face will be fully visible to your conversation partner.

#9: Supplement the spoken words with written ones.

If conversation is still difficult after following the tips above, try texting or using an app that translates spoken words into written ones. Sometimes reading the message is the most effective way to make it understood.

Hearing Loss Treatment In Mesa and Scottsdale, AZ

At Advanced Hearing Group, we work with people of all ages who have hearing loss. We also work with their families to formulate an effective aural rehabilitation plan, including effective communication strategies. If you live in the Mesa or Scottsdale, AZ area, feel free to schedule an appointment at one of our three locations. Our audiologists are ready to help you hear better so you can live better!

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