Here are some tips to communicate effectively with a person affected by hearing loss.
Tips for the person with a hearing problem
- Stand close to (3–5 feet) and facing the person you are talking to.
- Make sure people do not speak to you from another room or while standing behind you.
- Eliminate background noise (television, windows, doors).
- Pay attention to lighting: keep light sources and windows behind you.
- Get used to looking at the person’s face and lips. Pay attention to gestures and body language.
- Tell the people you’re talking with that you have a hearing problem.
- Ask what the subject under discussion is.
- Ask people to repeat what they’ve said slowly using different words.
- Never pretend you understood if that isn’t the case.
- Use your hearing aids.
- Remember that it is always harder to understand when you’re tired, ill or taking medication.
Tips for people interacting with a person with a hearing problem
- Eliminate background noise.
- Come closer to the person.
- Make sure your face is well lit, and face the person you are speaking with.
- Attract the person’s attention with a gentle touch.
- Check that the person’s hearing aid is on and working properly.
- Speak slowly and clearly without exaggerating or yelling.
- Speak in short, simple sentences.
- Make sure the person understood by asking questions and repeat if necessary.
- If the message is still not clear, rephrase using different words and add gestures.
- If necessary, write down key words.
- Regularly mention the subject of the conversation.
- If another person is involved in the conversation, do not exclude the person with a hearing problem.
Consult a hearing health professional to learn about the best communication strategies for you.
Reference: Guide for healthcare professionals and personnel interacting with hearing-impaired adults and seniors.