Improving your hearing to improve your life

Tips for Communicating with the Hard of Hearing

a family eating and sharing stories over dinner

If you know somebody is hard of hearing, it can sometimes feel difficult to ensure they are hearing everything that is being said during a conversation. You may even need to repeat yourself to make sure that you have been understood. 

Fortunately, it turns out that there are several things that you can do to make communication easier. Some of them are obvious, like speaking clearly, but others are unexpected. To communicate better with someone who has hearing loss, consider utilizing the following eight tips. 

1. Don't shout

Many people shout when speaking with someone with hearing loss. But while shouting might seem like common sense, it can actually make communication more difficult. 

The problem with shouting is that it changes the way your mouth looks when pronouncing words. Given that many people with hearing loss rely on watching the lips of the person talking to them, changing the shape of your mouth makes you more difficult to understand. 

Where possible, keep your lip shape as natural as possible. Avoid the temptation to shout and, instead, practice increasing the volume of your voice without changing the way your lips move. Remember, shouting too loud could hurt a hearing aid wearer. 

2. Maintain eye contact

Eye contact is an important visual cue that tells the person who is hard of hearing that they need to concentrate on you. It is also vital for ensuring that you orientate your face towards theirs so that they can see your lips. 

Audiologists recommend against facing your computer screen or looking out of the window while talking to a person with hearing loss. It is much more difficult for them to lip-read when viewing you from the side. Instead, face them head-on and give them your full attention. 

3. Don't be afraid to use gestures

Human communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Many psychologists argue how you use your body is more important than the words that come out of your mouth. Thus, it is crucial to use gestures and facial expressions when communicating with someone with hearing loss. People with hearing loss rely on your movements to infer what you are saying. It provides important contextual information that enables them to reconstruct meaning. 

4. Ensure that the room is well lit

This tip continues the theme we've developed so far. When talking to someone with hearing loss, make sure that the room is well lit. The better the lighting in the room, the easier it is to see your lips, making it easier for them to work out what you are saying. 

5. Speak at normal speed

You might be tempted to slow down the speed at which you talk when communicating with someone with hearing loss, but research suggests that this strategy is not always a good idea. It can be difficult for a person who is hard of hearing to adjust to listening to you speaking slowly after a lifetime of interpreting speech at regular speeds. 

Just talk to a person with hearing loss at the normal speed. They can understand standard speaking patterns, just like you. 

6. Speak one at a time

If you are in a group with a person who is hard of hearing, try if possible to speak one at a time – many people with hearing loss struggle to focus on voices talking over one another. 

7. Don't be afraid to repeat and rephrase

Repeating yourself is normal when talking to somebody with hearing loss. You shouldn't, therefore, be afraid of saying things two, three or four times if needed. Remember, the person with hearing loss wants to know what you are saying. They don't want to feel left out. 

If repeating several times does not work, try rephrasing the sentence. Sometimes, a person who is hard of hearing can get confused when there is a mismatch between the words they can hear you saying and what makes sense.

8. Include the person with hearing loss in your discussion

Isolation is one of the biggest problems associated with hearing loss. People who lose their hearing can withdraw from social situations because of the awkwardness of carrying out a conversation when you cannot hear properly, leading to conditions like depression. 

It is vital, therefore, that the people around them encourage them to take part in conversations at every opportunity, making them feel included. 

Would you like to find out more about hearing loss and how to communicate with those who are hard of hearing? If so, then get in touch with Audiology and Hearing Aid Services at 912-351-3038 today for more information.