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Tips for Communicating with the Hard of Hearing
Communication is typically a vital aspect of any person’s life. It’s how we share information, learn from one another and grow as humans. Communicating effectively is key to any successful relationship, whether it be at home or in the workplace. But what about communicating with those who have a hearing disability? In this post, we will discuss tips for communicating with those who are hard of hearing so that you can build effective relationships and connect with your community!
Always Face Them
If you are standing, sit down so that they can see your lips more clearly. You should also smile to show them you’re friendly! When communicating with someone hard of hearing, it’s important not just what you say but also how you say it.
Those who have trouble hearing the tone and pitch of a voice can affect comprehension capabilities, especially those on the autism spectrum or who experience cognitive disabilities like Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t assume that because people don’t respond right away, they aren’t listening; instead, ask if they heard everything correctly after finishing talking by saying something like, so did you get all that? Did you miss anything?
Ensure there is sufficient lighting when speaking with someone hard of hearing. When in a dark room or at night, make sure to turn on the lights for them if they ask you to! Don’t shout because it will only create more noise and confusion. Instead, speak clearly so that your voice carries across the space between you two without being overbearing.
Be mindful of their environment
Keep background noise at a minimum when trying to communicate with someone who has difficulty hearing; this includes playing loud music or television sets. If it’s difficult for you to hear, then imagine how much more challenging it must be for those who have little or no hearing capabilities!
It also helps if you sit facing away from any distractions, so they know you are focused on talking only with them instead of being distracted by outside sources like televisions or phones ringing nearby. Finally, give clear directions, don’t shout, but speak clearly and with an assertive tone.
To avoid any confusion or miscommunication, it is vital to remember some vocabulary words associated with the hearing impaired:
This includes terms such as I can’t hear you or speak up! These are phrases that most people with a hearing disability are accustomed to hearing, so they will usually respond well when you use them.
More Advanced Vocabulary
This includes words like elevator or even phrases such as, can you open the door? These would be helpful in more complex situations where it may not be immediately apparent that the individual hearing is impaired.
Repeat and Rephrase If Necessary
It’s natural to assume that a person with a hearing disability can hear you just fine, but this is not always the case. Because of this, it may be necessary for you to repeat what you said or ask them if they heard your question correctly. If someone has trouble understanding something, they will usually let you know by saying phrases like I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that, so don’t get frustrated when asking someone to repeat themselves!
Don’t Ignore Signs of Confusion
If all else fails and communication seems ineffective despite following these tips, consider writing things down instead to remove any possible barriers created by miscommunication between yourself and a hard of hearing individual! Keep in mind that there are many different reasons why a person may be hard of hearing, not all of which are permanent.
For example, they may have had a stroke or experienced trauma to the ear that caused them to lose their ability to hear specific frequencies and pitches. A good rule of thumb is if you’re having trouble communicating with someone who has difficulty hearing, then consider writing things down to avoid any possible barriers created by miscommunication.
Speak Clearly and Slowly
Speak directly to the person with hearing impairment, not their family member or caretaker. This way, they know it is specifically directed towards them instead of feeling like a conversation around them! Avoid speaking too quickly, as this may confuse someone who has trouble understanding what you’re saying due to hearing difficulties.
When talking about yourself, use simple language that they can easily understand; if necessary, consider writing things down on paper to remove any possible barriers created by miscommunication. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to write something down because there are many reasons why an individual may have difficulty understanding spoken language.
If you’ve noticed family members struggling with clear communication, feel free to call Brentwood Hearing Center at 615-377-0420.