Communicating with the hearing impaired takes extra consideration for a conversation to be successful. We all need to brush up on our communication strategies even if the person is wearing a hearing aid.
Each person has different hearing needs and the following steps will help overcome some of the conversation barriers a person with hearing loss faces every day.
A crucial fact we need to be aware of is that tiredness and illness make hearing a lot harder. Be more patient during these times or wait till the person is well and wide awake to talk to them.
Face the person
Firstly, you need to gain their attention. Face the person directly so they can use visual cues to pick up the nuances of the conversation. Don’t try and talk from another room or from behind them. The person needs to be able to see you front on so they can understand you.
Make sure your face is in good light so the listener can easily observe your facial expressions and read your lips. Glare will also affect the hearing impaired person’s ability to understand you so check that they are not facing a light source when engaged in a conversation.
Don’t cover your lips or face
Keep your hands away from your face so you are not obscuring the sounds and visual cues you are projecting. Avoid eating or smoking while talking as they make speech difficult to understand.
Without shouting, you need to speak louder and slightly slower. Shouting will distort the sound of your voice. Speaking too slowly will make your voice sound monotone and unnatural. Don’t overemphasise words or exaggerate your mouth movements.
Rephrase your words
If you weren’t understood the first time, try rephrasing rather than repeating. Try different ways of saying it till the person comprehends you.
Facial expression and gestures
Try using facial expressions and hand gestures to emphasise what you are saying.
Avoid background noise
Background noise makes the hearing impaired person’s understanding of speech so much more difficult. Try talking to them in a quiet environment and turn off the radio or TV while you talk to them.
Stay on topic
Rapid changes in topic will leave the hard of hearing person confused and feeling excluded, particularly in group conversations. A good rule of thumb when communicating with the hearing impaired in a group situation is to keep them on track with the new topic being discussed and the fundamental points of the discussion. It’s our responsibility to keep them up to speed and be inclusive.
Write down key information
If you are giving the person names, addresses and phone numbers make sure to write them down so none of the information is missed. Numbers and words can sound similar and misunderstanding can occur. Writing down appointments, directions and instructions to help the person meet their commitments.
The person with hearing loss has their own specific communication needs and we need to ask them how we can best communicate with them. We are showing that we respect them and are willing to communicate effectively to help the conversation flow.
The Hearing Club
The Hearing Club is a local and independent hearing service provider. Our aim is to assist the hearing impaired to achieve the greatest enjoyment from life.
We are a family business accredited to provide services through the Commonwealth Office of Hearing Services, WorkSafe and experienced in excellence providing services to private clients in the area. We are proud of our history and commitment to the local community improving lifestyle through better hearing.
To make an appointment with one of our professional staff please call 1800 627 728. To find a clinic near you, contact us online today.