By Elizabeth Brassine, Au.D.
Hearing loss can affect your life in many ways. You may miss out on talks with friends and family. Sometimes hearing problems can make you feel embarrassed, upset and lonely. It’s easy to withdraw when you can’t follow a conversation. It’s also easy for friends and family to think you are confused, uncaring or difficult when the problem may be that you just can’t hear well.
We often get asked in our office by friends and family, especially when fitting a new patient with hearing aids, how to best communicate with them. So, we thought we’d share some tips on how to communicate with a hearing impaired person.
- Face the person and talk clearly (not while walking away from patient or while looking in cabinets, refrigerators, etc).
- Speak at a reasonable speed––often slowing down how you speak is more beneficial than raising your voice.
- Do not hide your mouth or talk while eating or chewing gum (so much speech information comes from non-verbal cues and facial expressions).
- Stand in good lighting.
- Reduce background noises.
- Use facial expressions or gestures to give useful cues.
- Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
- Include the hearing-impaired person when talking. Talk with the person, not about the person when you are with others. This helps keep the person with hearing loss from feeling alone and excluded.
- Be patient; stay positive and relaxed.
- Ask how you can help!
Also important, here are some tips of what the hearing impaired person can do to improve their communication with hearing aids:
- Let people know that you have difficulty hearing.
- Ask people to face you and to speak slowly and clearly. Ask them to speak without shouting, which can just distort the speech signal.
- Pay attention to what is being said and to facial expressions or gestures.
- Let the person talking know if you do not understand.
- Ask people to reword a sentence and try again.
- Turn off any unnecessary, extraneous noises (such as the radio while in car, the TV at home, etc.).
- Wear your hearing aids consistently!
Elizabeth Brassine is a Doctor of Audiology and the owner of Hearing Services of McKinney.