Navigating Conversations with Hearing-Impaired Individuals: Helpful Communication Strategies

Having a hearing loss can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing for the individual affected. However, if the condition is left untreated, we often see individuals withdrawing from social interaction and isolating themselves from society. This overtime can lead to depression, and recent research suggests 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. However, 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 their ability to understand conversation more easily.

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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 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 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 the 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 book an appointment with one a hearing professional, click here.

Luke Argent
Luke Argent
Luke is a Co-founder/Director and Senior Audiometrist at Independent Hearing and graduated with a Diploma of Audiometry in 2018. He holds a Qualified Practitioner (QP) number with the Federal Government’s Hearing Services Program. Luke has been involved with the hearing industry since 2015 when he co-founded the business ‘Eyre Hearing’. Due to an expansion of the business in 2020 it was rebranded to its current name ‘Independent Hearing’.

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