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.
- 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.