Hearing loss: Tips for better communication

Communicating with hearing loss or to the hearing impaired can sometimes be difficult, but here are some simple communication tips you can use, to help the person understand you.

1. Attract the listener’s attention before speaking

It’s important to get the listener’s attention before you begin talking. For example, by saying his or her name. This simple action will prepare the person to listen and allow them to hear the first part of the conversation.

2. Face the person you are communicating with

Your facial expressions and body language add vital information to your overall communication. For example, you can “see” a person’s pleasure, frustration, or excitement by watching the expression on the persons face.

Sit where there is good lighting so that you can see more easily and where possible stand or sit no more than 2 metres (6 feet) away from the person you are communicating with.

3. Avoid covering your lips and mouth

Most listeners make use of lip-reading. Lip-reading helps improve recognition of more difficult speech sounds, especially in difficult listening situations such as background noise. Make sure the person you are talking to can see your mouth where possible, and if you are using a face mask or covering try to select one with a clear panel over the mouth.

4. Speak naturally and clearly

Speak clearly and at a natural level, but you do not need to shout. Shouting can distort the words and will hinder effective communication. If you tend to speak quickly, try taking more time over your words at a relaxed pace. Use pauses, rather than slowed speech, to give the person time to process what you have said.

5. Rephrase rather than repeat

If the listener has difficulty understanding something you said, find a different way of saying it. If he or she did not understand the words the first time, likely, he or she will not understand them a second time. So, try to rephrase it. For example, if the person did not understand when you said “what time did you get here?” change it to “when did you arrive?” instead.

6. Reduce background noise where possible

Turn off the radio or television. Move to a quieter space away from the noise.

The charity RNID has designed this card which you can download with similar tips.