People with hearing loss want to feel heard just like anyone else. There are some simple steps you can take when speaking with them to help facilitate effective communication and to help them feel included.
Focus on articulating your words
When you’re talking to people who have no hearing problems, it’s easy to slip into shared slang and shorthand without having to worry that the other party won’t understand you. In cases where you are speaking to someone with hearing issues, these kinds of shorthand often get lost, and your meaning can easily become obscured, or they can lose the thread of the conversation. Put your energy into speaking clearly, take an extra second to think about the words you are choosing, and focus on your phrasing structure.
Look people directly in the eye when talking to them
People without hearing loss get accustomed to having conversations with someone while looking elsewhere; perhaps chatting together while watching the television, or catching a loved one up on the day while performing household tasks. When you talk with a person with hearing loss, it’s important to look directly at them as often as possible. Almost all hearing-impaired people use speechreading as a tool to help them clarify a speaker’s words, even if they haven’t received formal training in it.
Consider solutions beyond just repeating yourself
Most of the time, our instinctive response to someone who says they didn’t understand us is to repeat the same phrase over again in a louder voice. It’s an understandable reaction but largely unhelpful for people with hearing loss. If the person you’re speaking to has trouble understanding you, resist the temptation to simply repeat yourself, and especially at a louder volume. Look for other ways to get your point across such as rephrasing the information and adding visual cues.
Try to keep background noise to a minimum
Ask any person who lives with hearing loss, and they’ll likely tell you that background noise is one of the most difficult conditions for them to navigate. You may not always be able to control the environment if you are in a public place such as a restaurant, but if you are having someone with hearing loss over to your home, consider what steps you can take to make the space more amenable to them.
These tips can help you better communicate with people with hearing loss, but there are innovative treatments and technology that can vastly improve their lives and help them engage with the world around them. Contact U.S. Hearing Solutions today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations and learn more about how we can help.