Hearing loss presents very specific challenges - not only to the person with this condition, but to all he or she encounters. These include family, friends, employers, the person on the other end of the telephone line, the person across the counter from him/her, etc.
There are some useful things that the person with the hearing loss can remember, can do for himself, and/or teach others. We call these Coping Strategies.
Things to Remember
The two biggest problems facing people with a hearing loss are:
A. DISTANCE (between the speaker and the listener). B. BACKGROUND NOISE.
Both of these problem areas can be overcome to a greater or lesser degree with Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) (see Devices to Help You Hear) and other technology.
Things to teach others Tips for Communicating with people who are Hard of Hearing
Speak slower and project your voice, but do not shout: Speaking at a moderate speed allows a person’s brain to fill in missed sounds and words. A person should never shout at one who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing; some hearing aid and cochlear implant users are especially sensitive to loudness.
Speak clearly and distinctly. This will make it easier for your words to be understood.
Try to communicate in a quiet environment: Turn off the radio, television, running water, air conditioner or other background noises. These sounds, taken for granted and ignored by many, are amplified by a hearing aid or cochlear implant and thus interfere with communication.
Talk facing the audience or Hard of Hearing person if one on one: At times a person with a hearing loss may be partially dependent upon speech-reading (also known as lip-reading) because sounds may not be easily heard even with a hearing aid. Therefore: speak at eye level; do not chew gum, look away, turn your back or cover your mouth while you are speaking; also, make sure there is adequate light so facial expressions and the movements of your lips are clearly visible. NOTE: Do not over-enunciate your words since this is counterproductive for lip/speech-reading.
Try rewording a message: Some words are easier to hear and/or lip/speech-read than others; therefore, rephrasing a message may make it easier for the person to understand.
Extend extra consideration in a group situation. When in a group, only one person should be talking at a time. Give a frame of reference for the discussion by mentioning the topic at the outset, and use visual aids. If the topic changes, make sure everyone is aware of the new topic. Summarizing key points every so often will benefit a person with hearing loss and “bring him up to speed”.
Things to do Hints for Hard of Hearing People (in communicating with others)
Use good communication coping strategies:
Identify yourself as having a hearing loss – ask people to work with you.
Look at the person speaking; pay attention to what is being said. Acknowledge that you understood what was said and/or (preferably) recap was said so that understanding is assured. If you do not understand some of what was said, repeat what you understood so the speaker does not need to repeat everything.
Ask the speaker(s) to:
Speak somewhat slower (if a fast talker).
Try to speak clearly and distinctly – to project his/her voice (especially if he/she has a tendency to “swallow” his words or mumble)
Sit with the light behind you and have your rooms well illuminated.
Anticipate what is likely to be said – the waitress: “and what would you like to drink?”; the grocery store checker: “paper or plastic?”.
Don’t try to have a conversation with someone in a different room (or while the water is running).
Try to eliminate competing noise:
Turn down (or off) the volume of a radio or TV
Choose a different room if there are loud noises – such as a dishwasher running – or turn them off.
If something is just not being understood, suggest the speaker use a different word or phrase.
Carry paper and pencil and make them readily available.
Be well informed. Read the newspaper, watch TV, be knowledgeable on things of current interest -- sports, books, civic projects and problems. Try to have some background on what people are going to be talking about.
Some of us talk all the time to avoid failing to hear. Don't get into this habit. People won't appreciate you constantly monopolizing the conversation.
Don't get into the habit of saying "What?" or "Huh?". Figure out first if you heard them or not.
Don't run around the house without your hearing aids. It makes it harder to communicate with you.
Carry extra hearing aid batteries with you.
When talking to young children:
Bend down and get on their level. You will hear them better and they will feel more important.
If you can’t understand them, have them show you what they want – in the fridge, cupboard, bedroom, etc.
Tell the child that you don’t understand what is being said, but you are really interested and what s/he is saying is important to you. If necessary/possible, get another person to act as “interpreter”.
Don't pretend to understand when you aren't sure what was said - No bluffing!! This can cause misunderstandings - some are humorous, some are not.
If a temporary noise occurs (like a plane flying overhead), signal to the person that you can't hear -- like raising your hand until you can hear again.
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