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How to Communicate with a Hearing-impaired Person

A family is communicating effectively with their hearing impaired father.

Hearing loss affects people of all ages. It’s something you may be dealing with yourself, or it’s something that affects a friend or family member. Life changes when hearing loss is present and routine tasks become more challenging. 

None more so than communicating with other people. It’s tough for a hearing-impaired person to talk to someone else. Keeping that in mind, we want to offer some advice for anyone that has friends/family suffering from hearing loss. If you read the tips below, you’ll find out the best ways to communicate with someone hard of hearing:

Communicate face-to-face

The best way to talk to someone with hearing loss is to be in the same room as them. If you try talking from a different room, then there’s a slim chance they’ll hear you. Not only that, but you should also make sure you face them directly. Shouting across the room will only lead to miscommunication, as they’ll struggle to pick up what you’re saying. 

An audiologist will recommend to stand or sit face-to-face in good lighting. As such, the hearing-impaired person has a clear view of your face. This is crucial as it lets them read your expressions and see your lips moving. From here, it’s easier for them to hear as you’re close by, but they can also try reading your lips. The chances of miscommunications reduce, and the hearing-impaired person has an easier time understanding what you’re saying. 

Speak slowly and clearly

People who have hearing loss will still be able to pick up some sounds. It depends on how severe their hearing problems are. However, you will make the problem worse if you speak too quickly and jumble up your speech. We all tend to speak quite fast and not really think about how we’re talking. Usually, this doesn’t matter as most people can understand what you’re saying anyway. But, when someone is hearing-impaired, you make it almost impossible for them to detect what you’re saying. 

The solution to this is simple; speak slowly and clearly. There’s no need to exaggerate your mouth movements or talk in slow motion; speak at a regular pace in a clear voice. Any good audiologist will tell you this makes it much easier for hearing-impaired people to read your lips and process the words you speak. 

Don’t shout at them

Most people assume that you need to speak loudly to someone who’s suffering from hearing loss. While this is somewhat true, there’s a line you shouldn’t cross! You can’t whisper or murmur when you’re talking to them. So, raise the volume a bit, but make sure you can still speak clearly. 

Problems arise when you raise your voice too much and start shouting. You think a louder noise helps them hear, but it has the opposite effect. Your audiologist will explain that shouting distorts your voice. It becomes harder for someone to hear what you’re saying, particularly when they’re hearing is impaired. Plus, yelling also leads to distorted mouth movements. As a result, it’s more challenging to lipread as well. 

Use hand movements and gestures

Don’t be afraid to use hand movements and gestures to get your points across. Think about it this way; you frequently use gestures when you’re communicating with someone who speaks a different language to you. If you’re ordering food on holiday, you try miming certain words or holding up your fingers to indicate numbers. It’s not perfect, but it helps the other person figure out what you’re talking about. 

If this works when communicating in a foreign language, then it will definitely work when talking to someone who speaks the same language as you. Use gestures and hand movements – maybe even point to particular objects – and your communication will improve. When this is combined with the other tips, it’s much easier for the hearing-impaired person to grasp what you’re trying to say. 

Write things down

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with writing things down. Don’t jump to this instantly; give the person a chance to decipher what you’re saying first. They’ll appreciate that you’re trying to talk to them like a regular human, and it makes them feel better about their hearing issues

But, if you’re still struggling to get specific points across, then write some words or sentences down. It’s the last resort tip, but it will come in handy in some situations. 

Contact Adirondack Audiology for hearing loss advice

At Adirondack Audiology, we specialize in all types of hearing loss. So, if you need help communicating with a hearing-impaired person – or you just want some hearing loss advice – then contact us today. Call us at 800-273-9536 to learn more.