Communication Tips



Accessibility for the hard of hearing means creating an environment where all
individuals can communicate and actively participate. To be accessible to deaf
and hard of hard people, a public place or service facility should provide one
or more of the following:

  • Telephones with volume control handsets and hearing aid compatibility.
  • TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) – a compact portable device for use with a regular telephone.
  • Captioned movies, DVDs, TV programmes.
  • Special sound systems installed for hard of hearing patrons – FM, infra-red, or loop.
  • Visual alert system (flashing light) for emergencies such as fire.
  • The International Symbol is also used to identify deaf and hard of hearing:
    • patients on a hospital chart
    • guests on a hotel or motel register
    • children, on road signs near schools or homes
    • on a wallet card.


Hard of hearing people are often denied full use of public facilities such as museums, libraries, movie theatres, concert halls, churches, buses, planes, and transportation terminals. The following suggestions would improve hearing accessibility:

  • captioned video/audio content
  • printed information
  • signs
  • assistive listening devices
  • compatible and amplified telephones
  • portable TDDs
  • visual fire and smoke alarm systems
  • adequate lighting
  • trained staff that are aware of and sensitive to the needs of those with hearing loss.

Speechreading (Lip Reading)

Lipreading means watching the movement of the lips, jaw and tongue to discern what sounds and words are being shaped and spoken. Since only about 40% of the spoken language appears on the lips this does not leave you with much to go on. Speechreading is a more correct term to use.

Speechreading involves understanding a person through a combined look and listen technique. The speechreader sees visible movement and sometimes hears at least part of the message. This visible movement is not only lip, tongue and jaw movement. It is facial expression, eye expression, body language, the context in which the person is speaking, and whatever sounds one hears. All possible cues are utilized to assist in speechreading, including sight, amplified sound, and educated guessing. The speechreader is alert and picks up on everything. You can train yourself to do this, once you understand more about the dynamics of what is going on relative to hearing and speech.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association currently offers 2 speechreading programs (Level 1 & Level 2). Please visit our Speech Reading and Coping Skills page to learn more.

Hearing Assistive Technology

Living in a world which relies heavily on communication, hard of hearing people often find themselves excluded from conversation at home, in the work place, and social settings. However, there are many technical devices that make communication easier.

CHHA-NL provides a loan program for many types of assistive technology.


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.

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