Hearing what is being said and what is going on is more important now than ever before. People who are socially vulnerable – such as those with hearing loss – are likely to struggle more during this unprecedented time.
But hearing loss is not just a challenge for those who suffer from it. It can also be a struggle for loved ones trying to communicate with them. If you are staying at home with a hearing-impaired person right now, we encourage you to follow the tips below to stay connected.
- Most hearing-impaired people have greater difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise, so try to minimize extraneous noise when talking.
- Be aware of possible distortion of sounds for the hearing-impaired person. They may hear your voice but may still have difficulty understanding some words.
Set Yourself Up for a Successful Conversation
- Do not talk from another room.
- Say the hearing-impaired person's name before beginning a conversation. This gives the listener a chance to focus attention and reduces the chance of missing words.
- Face the hearing-impaired person directly, on the same level and in good light.
- Keep your hands away from your face while talking. If you are eating, chewing, etc. while talking, your speech will be more difficult to understand.
- Take turns speaking and avoid interrupting others.
Focus on What You’re Saying
- Acquaint the hearing-impaired person with the general topic of the conversation. If the subject is changed, tell the hearing-impaired person what you are talking about now.
- Many numbers and words sound alike. If you are giving specific information such as time, place or phone numbers, have the hearing-impaired person repeat the specifics back to you.
- Whenever possible, provide pertinent information such as directions, schedules, work assignments, etc. in writing to ensure the hearing-impaired person has the correct details.
Focus on How You’re Saying It
- Speak clearly, slowly and distinctly, but naturally. Do not shout or exaggerate mouth movements; it may distort the sound of speech and make speech reading more difficult.
- Avoid talking too rapidly or using sentences that are too complex. Pause between sentences or phrases and wait to make sure you have been understood before going on.
Pay Attention to the Hearing-Impaired Person
- If the hearing-impaired person hears better in one ear than the other, try to remember which ear is better so that you will know where to position yourself.
- If the hearing-impaired person has difficulty understanding a phrase or word, try to find a different way of saying the same thing, rather than repeating the original words over and over.
- If they give you a puzzled look, tactfully ask the hearing-impaired person if they understood you or ask leading questions so you know your message was received.
Do you suspect that a loved one may be suffering from hearing loss? Encourage them to take our quick online hearing test to see how their hearing measures up. You can also contact us at 1-800-BELTONE if you’re concerned about worsening hearing loss. We are here to support your loved on their journey to better hearing.