Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

If you have recently invested and have been using your hearing aids regularly, then you probably agree that the benefits are priceless. You may be able to connect to friends, family and co-workers in a way you have not done in a long time. However, while hearing aids can help you hear in so many situations, they don’t fix your hearing. 

There are exercises and games you can play to retrain your brain to hear conversation in noise and other sounds you have not been used to hearing in a while. However, one of the most valuable actions you can do to help you hear is being forthright and open about your hearing loss. When you let the people in your life know what helps you hear, it ensures that you will be able to get the most out of your conversation. After all, communication involves at least two individuals: a speaker and a listener. If you can’t hear then you can’t respond. Here are a few communication strategies, you can suggest, to help you hear the people in your life loud and clear.

Gain attention

It is helpful when people get your attention before they begin speaking if you have a hearing loss. It takes extra focus to listen with a hearing impairment and this allows you to prepare to hear what is about to be said.  

Maintain eye contact

Ask people to maintain eye contact during conversation, because it makes it easier to stay connected and engaged. This also allows you to read facial expression and body language, which are valuable aids when you are hearing impaired.

Keep hands away from face

Not only can you rely on facial expression but lip reading becomes a valuable tool. It’s important to ask people to keep hands from obscuring mouths during conversation. Lip reading has been especially thwarted by the high use of masks, to protect from the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks make it not only difficult to hear what people are saying, but obscure the mouth, making it more difficult to lip read and identify expression. There are clear masks available which are up to code, while allowing you to use visual cues that you may have come to rely on.

Pronounce and Enunciate

When you speak clearly and evenly, it can ensure that the listener has time hear and understand. Using pauses at the end of sentences allows the listener can fully process the last statement before you move on. If they are changing the subject, suggest getting in the habit of saying ‘new topic” before they begin, so the listener has time to make the shift. Many think that shouting can allow a person with hearing issues to hear better. However, this can actually distort the sound and the shape of your mouth, adding further confusion. 

Rephrase rather than repeat

When you have to ask someone to repeat themselves once or twice and you still don’t understand, try asking them to rephrase instead. This adds context and may avoid difficult tones or consonants which are hard for you to hear. If there is a particular word you are struggling with, ask the speaker to just repeat that word.

Talk away from background noise

It is difficult for anyone to hear in a noisy setting, but for those with hearing loss this is difficult, even with hearing aids. If you can reduce the background noise by turning off machines, TV’s or stereos this will help your conversation go smoother. Avoid having important conversations in noisy spaces. If possible, try to move to a quieter location or wait until after you’ve left the loud environment.

Use an app to translate from spoken word to written word, or use texting

These days there are apps that can make listening much easier. Dictation apps such as Dragon allow you to speak into a smartphone or computer and have the words show up on a screen. This technology is rapidly growing and making it more convenient to attend meetings or seminars. The good news is you can revisit the information later.

Schedule a hearing test

If you are having more trouble recently than usual, there is always the chance that your hearing aids need to be adjusted. Hearing loss can progress over time, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of hearing exams. If it has been a while since your last hearing exam, it’s always a good time to understand how you can care for your hearing the best.