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Communication Tips for Hard of Hearing People

Hearing Loss and Communication

Communication is an essential part of our daily living. We need to communicate to establish good relationship, express needs and to understand message delivered by others. Hearing loss is a known communication barrier and often leads to communication breakdown. It causes frustration to people with hearing loss and their communication partners. Some easy tips might be handy when it comes to minimizing the effect of communication barrier.

General Tips: Take Hearing Loss into Consideration

ACTION

EXAMPLE

Get attention of your communication partner before speaking to them.
  • Address them politely.
  • Use small wave or light touch if necessary.
Ensure low level of background noise.
  • Turn off sound source such as radio or television.
  • Move away from any noise source.
Maintain comfortable distance from people with hard of hearing.
  • Sit or stand within 1 or 2 metres from people with hearing loss while communicating with them.
Look at your communication partner
  • Maintain good eye contact.
  • Do not cover your mouth to help them to guess your speech, if necessary.
Speak clearly
  • Speak at slower rate with normal conversational voice level.
  • Avoid shouting.
  • Repeat keywords, if necessary.

Telephone Conversation: Keep it Short and Simple

ACTION

EXAMPLE

Speak with normal tone of voice.
  • Avoid shouting as it can further distort sound output.
Minimize background noise.
  • Avoid using hands-free as it can capture more background noise.
  • Turn off sound source.
Supplement phone call with written material.
  • Send SMS, fax or email to summarize points discussed in phone call.

Speaking to Special Population with Hearing Loss

Communication with special population with hearing impairment such as children, elderly and individuals with multiple disabilities can be challenging. It requires a lot of patience as expected response can be slow. General tips may apply to people from this category.  Good understanding and respect from communicating partners will be really helpful for these people to communicate confidently.

Establishing Realistic Expectation on the Effect of Amplification

Usage of hearing aid may help to improve hearing ability for people with hearing loss. Anyway, the device can’t restore one’s hearing back to normal. Despite of presence of modern features such as noise reduction, people with hearing aid are still vulnerable to the effect of competitive noise. Minimizing the effect of distance, noise and echo can always improve the listening condition and make it easier for hearing aid user to capture speech.

Take Home Message

Whenever possible, try to keep your conversation short and simple. Avoid complex sentences or unfamiliar words. Use clear and steady voice. Remember to minimize background noise and maintain good distance between your communication partner .People with hard of hearing may depend on lip-reading. Thus, face your communicating partner. Lastly, establish empathy and patience with your communication partner who has hearing loss.

References

  1. Hearing Loss Association of America. (2005). Living with hearing loss. Retrieved from http://www.hearingloss.org/content/living-hearing-loss

  2. Adult Aural/Audiologic Rehabilitation American Speech-Language Hearing Association. (1997). Adult aural/audiological rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Adult-Aural-Rehabilitation/

  3. Dillon,H. (2001).Counselling the new hearing aid wearer. In Dillon,H (Ed.), Hearing aids (pp332-337). New York: Boomerang Press.

Last Review : 10 March 2014
Writer/Translator : Revathy a/p Sevasankaran
Accreditor : Nur Azyani bt. Amri

 

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