Tips for Improving Communication

Unfortunately, Hearing Aids Cannot Fully Correct Hearing Loss

If you have ever seen Wheel of Fortune on TV, you can understand how a hearing impaired person hears. They get some of the letters in the phrase but not all of them. Therefore, most people with hearing loss need to use many other strategies to help them understand conversation. It is important, for example, that they look at the speaker for visual cues, sit close to the speaker, avoid background noise, and communicate under good lighting. The following suggestions will help hearing impaired persons understand you better:

  • Speak in a normal voice (slightly louder if the person is hearing impaired). Do not shout. Shouting distorts not only the voice quality, but also the lip movements.
  • Speak at a normal, slightly slower rate. Do not exaggerate lip movements, as this distorts the message and distracts the listener.
  • Facial expressions definitely help the individual to remain on-topic and pick up on subtle cues of the conversation. Appropriate gestures, if not overdone, can also be helpful.
  • Make certain you are visible to the listener. Avoid eating, gum chewing, or covering your mouth when speaking. In addition, adequate lighting should be available.
  • Try to avoid communicating in a noisy place. The best environments for communicating are those free of background noises. If possible, turn off the television, radio, stereo, dishwasher or other background noises.
  • Try to avoid too many visual distractions such as extraneous hand movements, several speakers at once, and exaggerated facial or mouth movement.
  • If a message is not understood after the second repetition, rephrase it. Using different words may be just the help they need to understand you.
  • Make sure they understand the topic of conversation and transition of topics. This can be done either verbally or graphically.
  • Sit close to the hearing impaired person. This may be the single most important thing you can do to help them hear better.
  • Allow adequate time for a response from the listener, and try not to answer for them.
  • Finally, be patient, calm, and relaxed when attempting to communicate.

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