Tips for talking to hearing impaired people
Communication for hearing impaired people, and those they are trying to communicate with, can be very difficult and frustrating. When a person is wearing a hearing aid it doesn’t ensure that their hearing is at normal hearing thresholds. A hearing aid is exactly what it is, a device to help “aid” a hearing impaired person. Below are some strategies for better communication between hearing impaired people and those around them. Using these strategies, in conjunction with hearing aids, will significantly help with communication.
Face the person directly
When speaking with a hearing impaired person, it is important to talk face to face. Try to be at the same eye level so that they can see your facial expressions and read your lips. Hearing impaired people need to use other visual clues to help aid communication with others.
Say it a different way
If a hearing impaired person is not understanding what you are trying to say to them, try saying it in a different way. Many hearing impaired persons can actually hear a certain level of pitch in noise but don’t pick up certain sound frequencies in speech, such as “sh, th, f “etc. Instead of repeating the same words over and over, rephrase your sentence. They will manage to pick up key words from both sentences and will link them together for better understanding of what you are trying to say.
Shouting actually makes words sound less clear. It can also create an aggressive tone within the conversation, leading to anxiety and frustration. Speak at a normal volume and slow your sentences down. By doing this, a person who is hard of hearing will have better comprehension of what you are try to say to them.
Reduce background noise
A common issue that people who are hard of hearing face is trying to decipher speech when there is back ground noise present. All they can hear is noise and it can be a struggle trying to concentrate and communicate. They require a lot of focus to understand the person they are conversing with. In instances where there is a lot of background noise, try to illuminate it. Turn down or turn off the television or radio. If you are in a noisy environment where the noise is out of your control, try moving to a quieter area.
Ensure there is plenty of light
Where possible, ensure there is plenty of light. Talking in a well-lit environment helps to assist a hearing impaired person to see your facial expressions and, again, use visual clues for better understanding of what you are try to tell them. It also allows them to gauge the mood and tone of the conversation, thus allowing them to respond accordingly.
Be patient and considerate
It’s very important to be patient and not get irritated when conversing with hearing impaired people. As stated before, even when someone is wearing a hearing device, the clarity in which they can discriminate words can still be difficult. Try to think about better ways you can help a person to hear. Some examples that will help them to hear and understand you better are things like booking a table for dinner in a restaurant in a quiet area with the hearing impaired person having their back to any background noise. You can also request preferential seating when attending the theatre to enable better sound quality. If travelling the car, try to sit in a seat where visibility is best so that they may use mirrors or turn to see your face. At home, try not to call out from another room in your house to communicate with them. It is always best to be in sight as they won’t hear you.
There are of course other devices that can work in conjunction with hearing aids to improve the speech signal in noise, at a distance or both. To discuss what additional options are available to you, please contact Independent Hearing Solutions on 1300 415 718.