Hearing loss is not only a challenge for those who suffer from it, but it can also be frustrating for those trying to communicate with them. Even for those using hearing aids, it is not always easy to communicate successfully in all situations. Follow these simple tips to improve communication with your hearing impaired friends, family and co-workers: 1. Get their attention Getting the listener’s attention before you start speaking will give them a moment to shift their attention and focus on you. Try saying the person’s name, touching their arm or using a gesture to get their attention. 2. Eye contact Ensure that you are face to face with your hearing impaired listener. Maintaining eye contact will help them focus on what you’re saying. Lip reading and facial expressions play a large part in communicating for both sides of the conversation. 3. Speak naturally and clearly – don’t shout Speak clearly, at a normal or slightly slower speed and enunciate your words. Speaking in a slightly louder voice may also help your listener understand, but be careful not to shout. Shouting distorts the sound of your words and can make lip reading more difficult. 4. Keep your hands away from your face Most listeners depend on lip reading and facial expressions to understand conversations more completely. Be sure not to cover your face and avoid exaggerated facial expressions that may distort your mouth and impede the listener’s ability to lip read. 5. Rephrase If you find that you’re being asked to repeat yourself, try rephrasing and using different words to make your message easier to understand. Ask leading or clarifying questions throughout the conversation to ensure your message is clear. 6. Avoid excessive background noise Background noise makes listening conditions difficult for those with hearing loss, try to avoid situations where there will be loud noises whenever possible. Turn off the television/radio, move away from noisy areas and if you’re in a social environment, try to find a quiet place to sit or a seat in a restaurant that is away from the kitchen or large gatherings. 7. Talk into their “good ear” Many people who suffer from hearing loss tend to have one ear that is stronger than the other. Look for cues as to which ear that is, ask them if appropriate, and situate yourself on that side of your listener. 8. Watch your listener Pay attention to your listener’s facial expressions and body language for signs of confusion or that they don’t understand. If you notice that they seem puzzled, tactfully ask if they understand or if they need clarification. 9. Speak to the person, not the interpreter If your listener communicates via an interpreter, be sure to keep your eyes on and speak directly to your listener and not the interpreter. It may seem odd at first, but the interpreter is a tool to help the listener communicate. 10. Be understanding You may feel understandably frustrated when interacting with the hearing impaired, but keep in mind how it must be for them on a daily basis. Be patient. Communicating with hearing loss is a cooperative effort and requires understanding from both sides. Do you suspect that you may be suffering from hearing loss? Take this quick quiz or our online hearing test to see if you are showing symptoms. Or request an appointment with a Beltone representative here.
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