Thursday, April 10, 2014

How do you talk to someone with a hearing loss?

This is a question we are asked quite frequently.  It is very important to recognize that the person with hearing loss is going to require some special attention in order to communicate.  Most importantly, be sure to speak face to face.  Individuals with hearing loss, even if wearing hearing aids, depend a great deal on facial expression and lip movements to fully understand what is being said.  Speaking with a mouth full of food or chewing gum makes lip reading very difficult.  Also, being in the same room is paramount.  It is not possible to carry on a satisfactory conversation from a different room, with the dishwasher running, the fan going or the television set on.  

Speaking in a clear, distinct voice is most effective, particularly when speaking face to face or on the telephone. This method of communication allows the person with the hearing loss to understand enough words to realize what you are trying to communicate.  It is not necessary to raise your voice or “yell”.  If you raise your voice, your facial expression changes and it would appear that you are upset or angry. In the event it is necessary to repeat, make an attempt to restate what you have said, not word for word, but in general.  This will help the person with hearing loss to gain more information with each repetition.  

Noisy environments are particularly challenging for those with hearing loss.  Make attempts to find settings away from air conditioners, running water, entryways, speakers and the restaurant kitchen.  If seated in a restaurant, be sure to find a quiet location and sit across the table from the person with hearing loss.  

Hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal.  They are very helpful in improving the ability to communicate, but it is necessary for everyone to contribute toward a successful conversational situation.  The person with hearing loss needs to advocate for themselves.  Family, friends and co-workers must be told what is needed to help improve communication.  Hearing loss is an invisible disability and it is easy to forget someone has a hearing loss. 

Life sounds great!  Enjoy every moment!

8897 Mentor Ave
Mentor, Ohio 44060
Fax: 440-205-9818

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