When we talk about communication, it generally requires focus and patience, but for people with hearing loss, this becomes much more difficult. Successful communication with the hard of hearing requires effort from both sides. It is our duty to make sure that people with hearing difficulties feel comfortable while having a conversation. Sometimes even if a person is wearing hearing aids it becomes stressful. If the listener can’t hear you properly, instead of getting frustrated and leaving the conversation, try the following tips to communicate better with the hearing impaired.
Communication Tips When Speaking To The Hard Of Hearing
Get their attention
Start the conversation by first referring to the person to gain their attention. Either tap their arm or shoulder, sit in front of them or move to their side. This lets them know you are talking to them and keeps their focus on you. These are simple gestures, but they help the other person to know he is being communicated to.
Maintain eye contact
Face the person you are talking to directly, on the same level. Keep making eye contact and try to not look away as hard-of-hearing people might try to read lips and facial expressions. Even if they can't understand the words properly, at least they will get some meaning from the expressions. Facial expressions and body language are often more important to the hard of hearing. Also, make sure there is brightness in the room so that they can look at you. Make sure you are not in a shadow or, conversely, that you don’t have too much light on your face.
Talk at a normal pace, not too fast or too slow. Speak slowly, distinctly, and clearly. Don't mumble or shout. Shouting, surprisingly, disturbs the sound signals and may make speech less comprehensible. Slow down and pause during sentences to give the listener a chance to understand, before moving forward with the conversation.
Sit closeSit or stand close to the person but not too close which invades their personal space. Be as close to them so they can maintain eye contact and can read your face as well. If the person you are talking to knows how to lipread then make sure to sit at a distance where it's easy for the person to read your lips. If the hearing impaired listener hears better from one ear make sure to position yourself closer to that ear.
Limit the background noise
Try your best to keep the background noise as low as possible. Turn or move away if there’s unwanted noise like dishes clinking, kids playing, etc. The listeners may have difficulty focusing on your voice if there is too much background noise.
Rephrase and repeat
If the person does not understand a word or phrase you are trying to communicate then don't just keep repeating the same thing. Try to find a different way of saying the same thing like giving a reference, pointing or rephrasing, etc. Try to avoid complex sentences and longer words that might be harder for them to understand. You can even use a paper pen to write on paper and show them so it gets easier for them to understand.
Pay attention to the listener
Pay careful attention to the hard-of-hearing person. Keep a look at their facial expressions. Sometimes hearing impaired people may feel embarrassed of asking to repeat something again and again. If at any point they look puzzled, don't get stressed and tactfully ask if they understood or if they want you to repeat what you said.
One of the most important things while talking to hard-of-hearing people is to keep trying. Even if they don't understand you the first time, it's ok. Try it again. Try different methods like writing it down, pointing, acting it out, etc but don't give up. Try helping them in different ways. You can help them by connecting their hearing aids to cell phones with wireless connectivity so that it helps them to interact better through mobile. You can learn about hearing aid and their different features, you can learn how to clean them to provide more guidance and understanding towards something that has become an important part of their life.
What to avoid while communicating with hard-of-hearing people
- The most important thing is to not shout or talk too loud. This makes the listener feel like the conversation is a burden on the speaker. Keep your calm even if you are getting flustered and keep trying.
- Avoid sudden change of topic. This makes the hearing aid wearers lose their focus in the conversation. If you change the topic then inform the person first.
- Don't cover your face or mouth while talking to deaf or hard-of-hearing people. People with hearing loss often rely on visual cues.
- Do not talk from far away or in another room. Not being able to look at the person is one of the common reasons the hearing aid wearer has difficulty comprehending speech.
- Avoid interruption while communicating with people with hearing loss. This breaks their chain of thought and causes disruption in communication. Give them an equal chance to say what they want to say.
How To Have Group Discussions With The Hearing Impaired
Talking directly to the hearing impaired patient is comparatively easier than in a group conversation. In group conversation you can not always control everything like who talks first, taking turns, talking slowly, etc. there are a few things to keep in mind while talking in a group where a hearing impaired person is involved. First of all, make sure to take turns while talking. Overtalking can overwhelm the hard-of-hearing person. And they might not understand what a single person is saying. Also, make sure that the hard-of-hearing person is not lost during the conversation. Repeat what is being said so that the person gets it and then move forward. Another thing to keep in mind is to sit in a way that the hearing impaired person can look at each and every person in the group, like in a circle. This way they can take help from visual clues to better understand the conversation.
The above tips are simple and, when followed properly, communication with the hard of hearing might feel as easy as with normal hearing individuals. While communicating with the hard-of-hearing and especially the elderly it is most important to make them feel important and not a burden. You should make them feel comfortable and happy while talking. If your loved ones are in need of hearing aids, then help them to choose the right hearing aid.
What Are Some Tips To Talk To Hearing-Impaired Persons on Video Call?
There are a few tips to take care of while communicating with a hard-of-hearing person on a video call. Firstly make sure you sit in a well-lit area so that there is enough lighting to see each other. Try to face the camera all the time whether you are the one speaking or the other person. You can then mute your microphone so there’s no background noise from your side while the other person is talking. If talking is not enough and you need to make them understand something important like days, dates, etc then make use of the chat function and type the important stuff.
How Do I Converse With a Hard-Of-Hearing Person On Voice Call?
Talking to a hard-of-hearing person on a voice call might be a difficult task. While communicating most hearing impaired people rely on visual cues. And even the speaker can get some help while looking at the listener whether the communication is understood. But this is not the case if you want to communicate on voice calls. First thing is to make sure that one person is speaking at a time. So that both people can get each other’s message. Talk a little louder on the phone than normal. There are now hearing aids available that provide wireless connectivity so you can make hands-free calls with your hearing aid.