People with a hearing loss often report that they can hear but not understand what is being said. The following covers some tips for communicating with hearing impaired people.
- Background noise and distance significantly affect how well a hearing impaired person hears and understands speech.
- Face to face conversation in relatively quiet listening conditions is recommended for all hearing impaired listeners. This provides the best possible reception of the voice and allows the listener to use any visual cues he or she may need to assist speech understanding.
- Gain attention before beginning a conversation so they are ready and listening. The hearing impaired have to put more concentration and energy into following a conversation and missing the beginning of the message can make understanding very difficult.
- Even with an appropriate hearing aid, the hearing impaired listener still may not hear and understand every word. They may hear enough of the key words to keep the conversation flowing but may miss some key information in the conversation.
- Some hearing impaired people have more difficulty following the conversation than others. You may occasionally need to repeat what you have said. If the person still has difficulty understanding, try saying it another way to help get them back into the conversation. General hearing and understanding difficulties increase as the hearing loss becomes more severe.
- The more the hearing impaired understand of their hearing loss, hearing aid use, hearing tactics etc the more listening enjoyment they are likely to derive. The more the carer understands of the difficulties associated with hearing loss the more they can both relax and enjoy each other's company and conversation.
- Communication by definition is a two way process. The person with the hearing loss needs to take some responsibility to improve communication ( with a hearing aid or improved listening tactics) but their communication partner must also take some responsibility, regardless of whether or not the person has a hearing aid.
Helping people to hear:
- Gain attention first
- Be on the same level
- Have clear lighting on the speaker's face
- Avoid background noise whenever possible
- Speak slowly and clearly but don't shout
- Use simple language
- Be understanding
- Repeat and rephrase as required