Reduced hearing can greatly affect the quality of communication with others, the essential component of all relationships. If you are experiencing reduced hearing, here are some tips for improving communication with others.
1. Self identify. Let people know you have difficulty hearing and what they can do to help you understand. Your reduced hearing is invisible, the signs of your reduced hearing are not. Unfortunately, some of the signs may be misinterpreted by others.
2. Get plenty of rest. It takes a lot of energy to listen when you have reduced hearing. Take listening breaks. When you are tired and you are finding it difficult to understand what is being said, ask if a particular discussion can be postponed to a better listening time for you, such as the morning.
3. Look for cues and clues. Pay attention. There is a lot you can learn from body language, expression and context.
4. Be a good listener. It is a lot of work to listen. If you are tired and inattentive, it may be misinterpreted by others as boredom or rudeness. Let them know your communication needs.
5. Wear your hearing device. If you have a hearing aid, cochlear implant, or other hearing device, wear it and learn all that you can about adjusting to the technology. If you need a hearing device, get one, or use other assistive technology that suits your lifestyle and listening needs.
6. Use Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT). There is a large variety of HAT available, such as devices for the phone, signaling devices and listening devices. The CHHA-NL provides a FREE assistive technology lending program.
7. Learn to Lipread We now offer an online lipreading course called “Read Our Lips” that you can access anywhere that has high speed internet. Lipreading can teach you lip movements that will help you “fill in the blanks” during conversations.
8. Let yourself catch up. Before interrupting a conversation, let it flow for a short time while you gather more clues. If you are still unsure what is being said, explain that you are lost and ask for a summary of what you have missed.
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Sign language is another communication tool used by people with hearing loss (typically by people who identify as Deaf) and have family or friends in their life that also know sign language to communicate with them. The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association- NL does not offer sign language classes as our mandate is to serve those with hearing loss who are oral communicators which is why we teach speechreading classes instead of sign language. If you are interested in Sign Language, the Newfoundland Association of the Deaf is an excellent resource.