Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

In Communication by Dr. Chris Lawson

Dr. Chris Lawson

Chris Lawson’s credentials include a Doctorate in Clinical Audiology (Au.D.) from the University of Maryland in College Park, and a B.S. in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His graduate clinical training included rotations at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), public schools, and private practice settings.
Dr. Chris Lawson

Latest posts by Dr. Chris Lawson (see all)

When you, or someone you know, experiences hearing loss, it is a health issue that can have negative consequences for everyone. It is a burden that everyone needs to deal with. However, you can help make communication easier and thereby prevent psychological issues that may arise as a consequence of the hearing loss, such as isolation and depression. The following communication aids and tips can make understanding the conversations easier for both the hearing-impaired person and for the people that communicate with him.

What If You Are the Person Experiencing Untreated Hearing Loss?

If you are the person who is experiencing communication difficulties, there are a few things you can do to improve communication process with your family and friends. However, before you make these lifestyle changes, you should first visit a hearing clinic. An audiologist is trained to treat hearing loss and will provide you with life-changing solutions.

Tips for People with Challenges with Speech Recognition

Eliminate Other Noises

If you have problems hearing, even after being fitted with a hearing aid, one of the first things you want to do to improve communication is stay away from noisy places. Even when you visit a coffee shop, a restaurant or a bar, sit with your back to the wall, so you can concentrate on the conversation and avoid the disruption of background noise. When at home and having a conversation with a friend or loved one, be sure to turn off the television or radio so you can better concentrate on the conversation.

Improve the Lighting of Your Home

When you have communication difficulties, your other senses will improve and you will get to a point where you can read facial features and lips. So, lighting becomes an important issue. Make sure that you have enough lighting in your home and when visiting a restaurant or other social place be sure to sit where there is good lighting.

Download a Speech to Text App

When you suddenly experience challenges with speech recognition, you may feel like you have lost all of your abilities, but you haven’t. You can still read, and there are many speech recognition apps that can help you understand a conversation. For instance, an app that converts speech to text can be of great help. A good example of this type of app is Dragon. When you don’t understand the conversation ask the person to speak it into the app on the phone, and it will convert the speech to written text so that you can read.

Tips for Communicating with People Who Have Trouble Hearing

Get the Person’s Attention

Before you start a conversation with a person who has untreated hearing loss, you want to get the person’s attention first before you start speaking. Call his name out, and then once you have his attention, begin speaking. If you know that he hears better on one side than on the other, move to that side of the person. You might also touch the person on the hand or shoulder to get their attention. Any of these gestures will help the person know that you want him/her to listen to you.

Make Eye Contact

It is important to always make eye contact before speaking. This gives a hearing-impaired person the opportunity to read your facial expressions, watch your lip movement and get other cues about the conversation through your gestures.

Keep Your Face in Clear View

A hearing-impaired person always develops skills in reading lips and understanding gestures, however, when people cover up their face with their hands, they limit the person’s ability to understand the information being communicated to them. 

Speak Normally

Speak naturally but distinctly. Don’t exaggerate your words and you don’t need to shout. Shouting usually makes it worse and harder for the person to understand you. Just speak at a normal rate and try to make pauses after sentences rather than slowing your speech. This gives the person time to understand meaning. you can also give clues as to the communication by saying things like “new subject” or “new topic” to change your conversation. This way the hearing-impaired person knows that you are changing the conversation to a different topic.

Rephrase Information

When speaking to a hearing-impaired person, you don’t always have to repeat exactly the same thing you said to get him to use his speech recognition abilities. Usually, it’s just better to rephrase the information in another way. For instance, if the person doesn’t understand, “I am going to the store,” you might say something like, “I’m going to the supermarket,” instead. The problem is that the speaker may not comprehend a specific word, but does understand most of the words you are saying.

Evergreen Audiology

If you or someone you love has a hearing loss, you should first get the problem checked out by an audiologist. Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors, and can sometimes even be reversed (as in the case of an ear infection).

We can help diagnose the problem and may even be able to offer a solution through proper medication or an appropriate hearing device. Get in touch with us today to schedule your hearing test.