How to Better Communicate with Someone Who Suffers from Hearing Loss
Almost every situation for those with hearing loss is better off with hearing aids. The thing is, there are certain times where hearing aids alone don't do the job and they cannot provide enough of a benefit. It's these situations communication partners are those who can help the most. Those who suffer hearing loss often enter a world that is much quieter and much more lonely than those who have hearing capabilities. Although an audiologist may have prescribed hearing aids, it doesn't always do the job!
It's important to remember that communication is a two-way street, and it involves the talker who sends a message and a listener who hears it. If someone is suffering hearing loss, it can be very frustrating for them when it comes to conversation and communication - especially when other people don't understand how to communicate well. With that in mind, let's take a look at some essential tips that you need to talk with someone with hearing loss.
Keep your hands down
It's so important to keep your hands away from your face while you are talking to someone with hearing loss. This way, the listener can see your face and your lips while you speak. Most people who have hearing loss can lip read while they listen with hearing aids. Visual cues are so important when it comes to a conversation with someone hearing impaired, and lip reading enables certain sounds that cannot be heard to be seen instead. The letter "S" for example, is one that is difficult to understand if you are hearing impaired, but it can be easy to see when shaped by the mouth. You should also avoid talking with food in your mouth and over exaggerating the words that you are saying - otherwise, it looks patronizing.
There is a fine line between speaking naturally and speaking with exaggeration. As mentioned earlier, it's over exaggerating words that can look patronizing to the listener, but that doesn't mean that you should mumble. There's no need to shout, either, when speaking to someone with hearing loss - you just need to speak normally. Not too fast, not too slow, and use pauses to allow the listener to catch up with what you're saying.
Sit in good lighting
Many people with hearing loss need to have good lighting for a conversation. This is due to the need to see your mouth move while you talk. Good light on your face is vital to successful communication. So, when you're in a restaurant, or you're in the house, make sure you have good lighting over your face rather than candlelight or dim light.
Don't repeat yourself
You don't need to speak slowly to someone hearing impaired, but you do need to learn not to repeat yourself overly. If the person has difficulty working out what you've said, just repeat it the once. If there is a continued difficulty, find another way to say it so that you're not going over the same words. So, if you're talking about going to the store, you'd say, "I'm going to the store,". If they don't understand it, switch it up to, "I am going to the supermarket,". It can make all the difference to use different words as your mouth makes a different shape. Sometimes, the listener may have difficulty with one particular word. If this is the case, ask them which word in the sentence they didn't make out and just repeat those words.
Before you begin a conversation with someone who has hearing loss, you need to think about how you will get their attention. Some people like to have their name spoken first, particularly if they have a level of hearing so they will be able to understand their name being called. Others prefer a light touch on the hand or shoulder to indicate a conversation. It gives the listener time to turn around and pay attention to your mouth moving when you talk.
Think about the way you stand or you look when you face someone and maintain eye contact where you can. The way your face moves and your body language is all part of the conversation, and you can convey your emotions with your facial expressions, too.
Think of your surroundings
Lastly, think about your location. If you are in a busy area, you need to think about how much you can be heard. So, in restaurants, ask to be moved away from the main seating area so you can listen to each other.
For more information on how to communicate with those with hearing loss, speak to an audiologist at Hinderliter Hearing Services and call this phone number: 248-430-842 for more.