Wearing hearing aids helps people rediscover the pleasure of hearing. Yet even with the best hearing aids available, certain communication situations may be difficult
Communication is a two-way street. The hearing-impaired person with hearing aids and his or her counterpart both play important roles in reducing comprehension issues that can arise in a discussion. Adapted communication strategies can help both people.
Communication strategies for people with hearing loss
- Tell your conversation partner that you are hard of hearing;
- Ask the person to rephrase what they said;
- Indicate which part you did not understand;
- Ask the person to repeat what they said;
- Do not pretend to understand;
- Stay calm and relaxed during the conversation;
- Move to a different place or get closer to the other person to help the sound reach your ears or to be able to read lips more easily;
- Decrease ambient noise at its source if possible;
- Suggest specific strategies to your counterpart (“Could you please speak slower, louder, spell out the word, etc.”);
- Ask conversation partners to always speak facing you and close to you;
- Explain to your conversation partners how important it is for only one person to speak at a time;
- Before a group meeting, pick out one person you would like to speak with and sit next to him or her;
- Use a notepad so your conversation partner can write out the words you have trouble understanding.
- Sit in a well-lit location near the speaker;
- Don’t try to communicate if you can’t see your counterpart;
- Sit at a round table, if possible, to facilitate lip reading;
- Eliminate noise sources by standing or sitting near a wall (See image.);
- Position yourself where you can see the faces of your conversation partners clearly, to be able to read lips and facial expressions;
- Keep windows behind you to prevent backlighting.
Optimized lip reading
- Use visual clues like facial expressions and body language to compensate for the sounds or words you did not hear;
- Make it a habit to look directly at the face of the person speaking, even if you seem to be understanding well;
- Identify the subject of the conversation and avoid interrupting your conversation partner;
- Concentrate on the meaning of the sentences (use the context to understand).
Lip reading is not a replacement for hearing, but it can help you understand better. It’s not easy, though. Learning to lip read is like learning a new language: it takes time and practice.
Tips for friends and family
- Get the person’s attention gently before beginning to speak;
- Choose a well-lit, calm place for your conversation;
- Avoid places with ambient noise;
- Stand or sit facing the person;
- Speak slowly and clearly, but do not yell or exaggerate your pronunciation;
- Do not hide your lips, or lower or turn your head;
- Tell the person the subject of the conversation and let them know when it changes;
- Use simple, short sentences. Rephrase sentences that were not understood;
- Use different words to restate a message that wasn’t understood;
- Use relevant gestures;
- Write down key words if necessary;
- Do not speak to the person if you are not in the same room.
Meeting with your audioprosthetist will help you learn the best communication strategies for your particular needs.