How you can help someone with hearing loss
If your partner, a family member or a friend has hearing loss, it’s important that youknow how to communicate with them. Although hearing aids improve hearing, they don’t fix hearing problems altogether so don’t presume they can hear like you do. For the hard of hearing, there are still certain sounds, pitches and words that can be difficult to hear.
Remember communication is a two-way street – it involves both the talker who sends the message and a listener who receives the message. A little consideration goes a long way so here are some ways that you as the talker can improve your communication to those who have hearing loss.
Get their attention
Before you begin speaking, gain their attention first so they have a chance to focus their attention and not miss the start of the conversation. Say their name or gently tap them on their shoulder to prepare the listener.
Make eye contact and ensure your face is visible when speaking. Yourfacial expression and hand gesture are all vital visual cues in contextualising the conversation. Non-verbal communication can be as important as verbal communication.
Don’t hide your mouth
Many people who are hard of hearing will sometimes lip-read which can help in recognising some sounds in speech.
Speak distinctly and clearly, but naturally and without exaggeration. You don’t need to shout or speak very slowly. Shouting actually distorts the sound of speech and use pauses rather than slow speech. Don’t mumble or talk too rapidly either.
Rephrase, not repeat
Rather than repeating sentences if someone hasn’t heard what you’ve said, try and find a different way of saying it.
Minimise background noise
Background noise can make it difficult for people with hearing loss to hear human voices clearly. Noises we might not notice like the radio or TV can make it hard for listeners to focus on conversations. Try to move to quiet places to chat and be mindful that it may be more difficult in noisy places such as restaurants and parties.