Talking to someone with hearing loss can seem frustrating at times. How can you increase your ability to communicate with your hearing-impaired loved one?
Communication Strategies for Hearing Loss
If someone you love has hearing loss, it may feel like you have lost something too. When it’s hard to communicate with your loved one in the way you’re familiar with (speech), you may feel frustrated. As an audiologist in Paradise, Dr. Touchette has seen many people express these frustrations.
Fortunately, there are ways to make communication easier when one person has hearing loss. Here are some strategies for communicating with a loved one who has hearing loss.
Strategies for communicating with someone who has hearing loss
- Face the person when you speak.
Many people with hearing loss use lip reading to some degree, to help them figure out what is being said. Putting your hands in front of your face, eating while you speak, or in any other way blocking your face may make it more difficult for the hearing-impaired person to figure out what you’re saying. Similarly, don’t shout for him or her from behind or from another room; stand in front of the other person and face him or her directly.
- Speak clearly, but naturally.
Shouting or exaggerating sounds can actually make it more difficult for the other person to understand you. Speak loudly, but don’t shout. Speak naturally, without exaggerating your mouth movements. Speak relatively slowly and clearly, not rushing or slurring your speech.
- Ensure that the hearing-impaired person is acquainted with the topic of conversation.
For example, reading the agenda for a meeting ahead of time may help the hearing-impaired person to follow the conversation during the meeting. Having the program available during a play may help the hearing-impaired person to follow the story.
When having a conversation, tell your hearing-impaired listener what you’d like to talk about. When you would like to change topics, clearly state that to your listener. If you’re going to an event (such as a party) with a hearing-impaired person, it may help to practice hearing and lip-reading key words and names that you expect to hear during the event, so that they’re more familiar.
- Use alternative methods of communicating.
When the hearing-impaired person doesn’t understand what you said, it may be more effective to state the same idea using different words, rather than to repeat the same words again. Some sounds may be harder for the person to hear than others. When you need to ensure that the hearing-impaired listener understood something, ask them to state it back to you. It may help to write down details, such as dates and times, that the listener needs to understand correctly. In some cases, when the hearing-impaired person has trouble with certain words or phrases, you could write them down, use gestures, or point to an object to communicate.
How can an audiologist help you?
These are only some of the methods for communicating with a hearing-impaired person. Paradise Hearing & Balance Clinic provides workshops for people with hearing loss and those who love them to practice effective communication strategies. These workshops can help you and your loved one function more effectively in a variety of situations.