You don’t have to master sign language to communicate with the hearing impaired. Realistically, you just need to make some simple adjustments to properly communicate with them. Hearing loss is a spectrum, some people may be completely deaf while others may struggle to hear certain tones or pitches. Hearing loss is far from being a one size fits all impairment either. Hearing loss is incredibly common and anybody at any age can get it.

This also means that not everybody who is hearing impaired even knows sign language. If you’re unsure about how to properly communicate with someone that’s hearing impaired, the best way to go about it is to just ask them. By asking them, they will let you know because everyone that is hearing impaired will have their preference on how to communicate. These are the three most common methods of communicating with the hearing impaired.

Sign Language

Sign language is a visual language that can be a combination of hand and arm movements, as well as facial expressions and body language. Sign language tends to have its own grammar and vocabulary as well. Each country has its form of sign language meaning that American Sign Language can be different from British Sign Language.

Auditory-Oral Approach

Since hearing loss is a spectrum, there’s a very high chance that the hearing impaired will still be able to hear you thanks to their hearing aid. You just may need to speak into a remote microphone or talk louder so the hearing-impaired person knows what you’re saying.

Lip-reading

This is the ability to read lip patterns. It’s naturally picked up on for those who have been hearing impaired since childhood. While many words have the same lip pattern, it’s not exactly a form of communication that can be entirely relied on one. It’s usually used in combination with speaking, and sometimes even sign language.

Tips for Communicating with a Hearing-Impaired Person

It’s very important to understand that each person who is hearing impaired has their own unique situation. This means that communication methods and preferences can vary from person to person. In general, these tips can still be used when communicating with someone that’s hearing impaired.

Don’t Be Afraid to Text or Write

If you don’t know sign language and the auditory-oral approach is not an effective way to communicate, then try writing down your message. You can either text it on your phone or even just write it down on paper. Giving up on your attempt to communicate may make the hearing-impaired person feel self-conscious.

Repeat

There is nothing wrong with having to repeat yourself, it can be fairly common. If needed, you can even rephrase what you’re saying so there may be clarity to your message.

Speak Clearly

You don’t want to shout, that’s completely unnecessary. You also don’t want to distort your lip patterns either by speaking too slowly. Just speak normally, meaning do not mumble and speak steadily.

Make Eye Contact

You’ll always want to face the hearing-impaired person and make eye contact with them. Covering up your mouth or turning your head away will make it different for the person to hear or understand you. Many people who are hearing impaired rely on reading lips to help them understand what people are saying. This also helps in ready body language as well. If you’re turned away while talking to the person, they’re going to struggle to understand you and they’ll struggle to understand your body language.

Check the Environment

Just like for those who are not hearing impaired, if there is a noisy or distracting environment, it’s going to be difficult to properly communicate. You’ll want to make sure that the environment that you both are in is very calm and move away from any loud or distracting background noise. You’ll always want to make sure that the area you’re sitting or standing in doesn’t distort your face. So, it’s best to keep out of dark areas or anywhere that has strong light. Remember, many people who are hearing impaired need to be able to properly see your lips and body language, as this can assist in understanding.

If you’re wanting to learn more about how to communicate with the hearing impaired, audiology, or hearing health, then you learn more at Adirondack Audiology. If you have questions or wish to book an appointment, please call us today at 800-273-9536.