Is there someone close to you with hearing loss? Odds are, yes! With over 40 million Americans managing significant hearing loss, that person could be a friend, neighbor, coworker or family member. People with hearing loss face challenges about how they understand speech and navigate communication. The good news is when you help make conversation easier for them, everyone benefits. Here are some tips for better communication with people who have hearing loss.
Get Their Perspective
How do you begin considering the hearing needs of others? To start, just ask! If someone is struggling with a conversation, ask them what would help improve their hearing in that situation. Many people with hearing loss will know of things they can do to hear better.
Depending on how they manage their hearing loss, assistive devices may be available for them. These devices can stream the sound directly to their hearing aids. Other people may increase their understanding when they can read the speaker’s lips. Often, people benefit from strategically positioning themselves in a room. This allows them to avoid “white noise” like blowing vents or outdoor noise.
Hearing Access for Everyone
Helping people hear better can make all the difference in them feeling comfortable and supported. This applies whether it’s around friends and family or even on the job. Many of the ways you can help those with hearing needs will also make you a more conscientious communicator in general. This is important because it means you can help people understand you better, regardless of whether or not they have hearing loss.
Always try to face the person you are speaking to. If you are speaking in a professional setting, try to place yourself so everyone in the room can see you while you speak. In work and school settings, there’s usually a lot of important information that is given verbally. Make sure notes of meetings and lectures are available so everyone can keep up with the material shared.
Stay in Touch
If you have a friend or family member with hearing loss, you’re probably used to answering the question, What did you say? Repeating helps, although it can seem like a nuisance. It helps the other person overcome the limitations of their hearing. Hearing loss changes our ability to communicate, and that makes it easier to withdraw from being in touch with others. People with untreated hearing loss run a much higher risk of depression, anxiety, and isolation than those without a hearing loss.
While hearing loss can be challenging to manage, today’s world presents a plethora of opportunities for non-verbal communication. If a loved one struggles to keep up with a conversation, see if they would like to communicate by texting, emailing or even just writing things down.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
There are other tips for better communication to help people hear better. Many revolve around choosing settings for the conversation that is quiet enough for focused listening. When choosing a restaurant, for example, look for places that aren’t loud and busy. Also, look for seating that is not near the clatter of a kitchen. Other features in a room, like curtains, booths, and carpeting can dampen excess noise and make it easier to talk.
When choosing a place for a conversation, positioning yourself near a wall can also help reduce some problems caused by environmental sounds. Walls absorb some room noise and can acoustically help a person locate sound sources more accurately. The future of spatial consideration is coming -with the rise of smartphones, apps are under development to help people find quiet cafes, shops and other social spaces with mapping and user input.
To review, face the person you are speaking to and be patient if you need to repeat what you’ve said. If they prefer, speak directly into their ear to deliver sound more directly. Hearing aids now exist that pair with smartphones, so audio from a phone call or digital device can be streamed directly to the ear.
In bigger group situations, try to say people’s names when you respond to them. People’s names can be an important reference point for someone with hearing a loss to follow the action, assisting them in processing who said what.
Get Your Hearing Tested at Hearing Group
Do you find yourself struggling to hear in conversations or meetings? Do you find it difficult to follow conversations in noisy places? If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing abilities, consider taking a hearing test. This is the first step to improving your ability to communicate with friends, loved ones, and colleagues. To schedule an appointment, contact us today at Hearing Group! We hope these tips for better communication with people with hearing loss have been helpful.