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Tips for communicating with people who have a hearing loss

Having a hearing loss can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing for the individual affected. If the condition is left untreated we often see the individual withdrawing from social interaction and isolating themselves from society. This over time can lead to disorders such as depression and recent research suggests that there is a possible link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive related conditions such as dementia.

Luckily today there are many high tech advancements to assist us with hearing loss such as hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive listening devices. Although today’s hearing technology is extremely advanced it is important to remember that they are still only an ‘aid’ to hearing and are not a cure.

Outlined below are some helpful tips to implement when speaking to a person with hearing loss to help improve there ability to understand conversation more easily.

Face the Person

When speaking with a person who has a hearing loss it is important to face the individual. This is helpful because they can can pick up on visual cues (lip reading) and facial expressions which assist with piecing together the conversation easier. Also by facing the individual the volume of your voice will be louder.

Speak clearly and don’t shout

Shouting tends to make speech distorted and harder to understand. Instead, speak clearly and if necessary, slightly slower than normal. If you do need to raise your voice, project your voice the way you would if you were speaking to a person on the other side of the room. This usually sounds clearer than shouting.

Reduce background noise

Reduce background noise if you can – turn off the radio or television, close the door leading onto a busy street, pick a quieter restaurant to dine in.

Reduce distance between you and them

The ideal listening distance for a hearing impaired person is less than two meters from the speaker. Avoid talking to a person with a hearing loss from a different room.

Rephrase the Sentence

Rephrase what you are saying if you need to. If a person with a hearing loss asks you to repeat something you said, repeat it once – if they still cannot understand you, think of a different way to say the same thing. This is something most people will naturally do, even for those with normal hearing.

For more information on this topic or to book an appointment with one a hearing professional then click here.

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