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Communication strategies

Tips for effective communication

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.