Communication Tips for family and friends

Communication is so important for everyday living. When a friend or family member has a hearing loss, communication can be challenging. Good quality hearing devices are a good solution to improve speech understanding, but even with the technology today, hearing instruments have limitations and can not restore hearing back to normal. These tips can be used by family and friends of hearing impaired people to help minimize communication breakdown.

Be Patient and understanding

The more the hearing instrument is worn, the better the brain will get at differentiating between speech and noise. So, encourage those with hearing instruments to wear them as often as possible. When you have a hearing impairment, listening requires effort, so conversation can be tiring. If you see signs of fatigue when conversing with a hearing aid wearer, don’t be forceful or prolong the conversation. Understand that hearing instruments have limitations and can not restore hearing back to normal.

Speak Clearly, Slowly and Speak Naturally

Don’t speak too slowly or use exaggerated facial expressions as it will make lip reading difficult to follow. Just speak naturally and pronounce your words clearly. Hearing instruments are programmed to amplify speech to an audible level, so there is no need to shout. Shouting can distort speech and cause discomfort to the instrument wearer.

Face the Listener

Visual cues like lip reading and facial movements are used by the hearing impaired person to help understand speech. If possible, position yourself so your face and lips are in easy view. Avoid having a conversation from another room or having your back turned to the listener.

Do not cover your mouth

When speaking with a hearing impaired person, try not to communicate with anything obstructing your mouth. Items such as news papers, eating, drinking and smoking will cover your mouth making visual cues difficult to follow.

Let your face be seen

Stand in well lit areas to allow your face to be seen. This makes it easier for the hearing impaired listener to follow important visual cues such as lip reading and facial expressions.

Reduce Distance

Reduce the distance between yourself and the listener. Reducing the distance will help with important visual cues and minimize interference from background noise.

Attract the Listeners Attention

Gain the listener’s attention and let them know that you wish to communicate with them.

Minimize Background Noise

Turn off radios or TVs or move to a quieter area for conversation.

Rephrase

If you find yourself having trouble being heard or understood, say it in a different way or write it down. Remember to be patient.

Take surroundings into account

Avoid having conversations from different rooms and areas with lots of background noise. Find a quiet place with good lighting to talk.