Tips for Improving Communication With People With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an extensive and diverse condition that varies in severity since the causes can differ greatly. Hearing loss can be caused by pregnancy issues, old age, physical damage, trauma, noise, blockage, illness, etc. It can occur on different levels in both ears, but it’s also possible to suffer from hearing loss in only one ear. Many factors, such as cause and location, can influence how hearing loss manifests.

There are three major types of hearing loss: conductive, caused by a blockage in the ear; sensorineural, caused by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve causes; and mixed, which is a combination of both.

Communicating with people with hearing loss can be a bit demanding. Even if people use hearing aids and active listening strategies, they can’t always communicate effectively. So, the others involved in the communication must use good communication strategies.

Below are some tips on improving communication with someone with hearing loss.

Use Expression and Gestures

The first rule is not to shout and exaggerate word pronunciation simply because it’s ineffective. If hearing-impaired people wear hearing aids, they may experience discomfort if you shout. Instead, try to speak clearly, distinctly, but naturally – just a little louder than usual and not too quickly. Shouting causes the lip pattern to change, and talking too slowly destroys the natural speech rhythm.

It’s also essential to keep your face and mouth visible. The other person will gather clues from what they hear and see when speaking. Visual cues of speech become crucial for people who have hearing loss. In addition, many people with hearing loss rely on lipreading, so they’ll gain a lot of extra information from expressions and hand gestures. Of course, hand gestures are helpful only if you don’t exaggerate them. Unnecessary gestures or any other movements can be extremely distracting.

Avoid Noisy Environments

Always choose places with minimal background noise. Though our brains and ears can filter background noise, people with hearing loss frequently struggle to hear over background noise. So try to avoid situations where loud noises are likely. For example, turn off the TV, avoid noisy areas, and if you’re in a social setting, find a quiet place to sit.

If you’re in a restaurant, avoid large groups and try to sit away from the kitchen. Also, remember that little rooms with no curtains or carpets can cause voice distortion and have poor acoustics. And always face the person who suffers from hearing loss by making direct eye contact. Maintaining eye contact will assist them in concentrating on what you’re saying.

Good Lighting Is Crucial

Check that the room has adequate lighting. People with hearing loss rely on lipreading, speechreading, expressions, body language, and hand gestures to improve communication and support their remaining hearing.

Hearing-impaired people can use speechreading to help them hear, so having good lighting on your face is essential. Sit in good lighting in a restaurant or party so your face can be seen clearly. Also, when going out for dinner, choose a restaurant that has adequate lighting, doesn’t play loud music, and has good acoustics. Bad lighting casts shadows on the speaker’s face. However, avoid sitting with strong lighting from behind you, as this will make it difficult for the other person to see you.

Rephrasing What you Say

Despite your best efforts, sometimes the person with hearing loss won’t understand what you have said. So, if something you said is unclear to the listener, repeat it once. Then, if they still have trouble understanding, find another way to tell the sentence. For example, use different, clearer words that mean the same thing.

Suppose the person with hearing loss is having trouble understanding a specific phrase. In that case, you need to find a different way to say the same thing instead of repeating the original words over and over. If they didn’t understand the first time, they wouldn’t understand even if you repeated the same thing ten times. You’ll just make them feel frustrated. However, don’t walk away until you ensure they’ve understood you and the conversation is finished. Sometimes you may need to write down some important things.

Wrapping Up

When interacting with people suffering from hearing loss, you may feel frustrated, but consider how difficult it is for them every day. So, please be patient. There are some situations where hearing aids alone are insufficient. You can help the person with hearing loss hear better in these situations.

You can improve the conversation by using simple strategies such as using gestures, maintaining eye contact, reducing background noise, and rephrasing rather than repeating misunderstood speech.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.