How to Communicate with the Hard of Hearing
One way to improve communication with the hard of hearing is to tailor your
communication patterns to best suit their needs by:
- Being aware of who has a hearing problem and who wears a hearing aid.
- Using the access symbol for hearing loss.
Following some simple rules for communication:
- Get the person’s attention
- Don’t do anything else while talking to the hard of hearing person.
- Face the person so that the light is on your face; look up and tilt your face so your mouth can be seen.
- Avoid talking against background noise if possible since talking, TV, can block out your voice.
- Don’t hide your mouth. Anything: food, gum, hands, can prevent speechreading.
- Do not shout.
- Speak clearly and slowly.
- Rephrase a misunderstood sentence. Say it in a different way.
- Use facial expressions, gestures. This adds meaning to your words.
- Write key words for the person to read.
- Bluffing may be a problem. Hard of hearing people often smile and nod as if they understand you when they do not. To be sure you have been understood, ask the person to repeat back what you said.
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.