Tips for Communicating if You Have Hearing Loss
Navigating conversations and social settings can require more work for people with hearing loss. Hearing loss presents communication challenges that call for adjustments in how you participate in conversations. But there are several useful strategies and hearing technologies available to you that you can maximize to support effective communication. Practicing the following tips can help you navigate communication with greater ease:
Wear hearing aids. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. These savvy electronic devices provide the ears and brain with ample support, making it easier to hear and process speech as well as sound. Hearing aids help alleviate symptoms which increase hearing capacity. Today’s hearing aids are also savvier than ever before. They offer a range of exciting features and technologies that are designed to create optimal hearing experiences in every environment you are in.
Use additional hearing technologies. In addition to hearing aids, there are other hearing technologies that are designed to support hearing. This includes assistive listening devices or symptoms which are often compatible with hearing aids. Hearing technologies like hearing loops make navigating sound in public spaces much more accessible. Also, personal amplifiers amplify sound which also increases accessibility. Be sure to speak to your hearing healthcare provider about the wide range of hearing technologies that you can maximize to strengthen communication.
Face others when speaking. Another useful tip is to always face the speaker. This allows you to have access to nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions which provides context and helps communicate what is being said. Additionally, it allows you to read lips which is a common strategy people with hearing loss use to follow a conversation.
Turn off other noises. Background noise can be tough to hear for anyone, especially people with hearing loss. It provides the brain with additional noise to have to process and filter through. This distracts from the noise you want to focus on which makes it more challenging to hear. It is important to reduce background noise as much as possible. This includes turning off sources of noise like the TV or music that may be playing in the background as well as not sitting next to sources of noise (fans, a/c units, doors etc. Also, avoid environments that are noisier like restaurants during peak hours. Instead, opt for a quieter public setting that allows you to hear much more clearly.
Avoid multitasking. Though it is common to multitask during conversations - eat, text, cook, clean etc. - this can also make it harder to hear. These activities can create more unnecessary noise for the brain to process. It also prevents people from being fully present and engaged in the conversation. It is important that people are completely available for the conversation which allows them to communicate effectively and catch when they may need to make adjustments.
Repeat information back. Repeating something that has been communicated to you is another useful way to make sure you received the information accurately. This is particularly useful for detailed information like locations, dates, times etc. You can even get this in writing like texted or emailed to you.
Share communication strategies. Be sure to share with others communication strategies that best support your hearing during conversations. This includes:
Grabbing your attention before speaking. People can do this by simply calling your name or tapping you on the shoulder.
Rephrasing rather than repeating which creates greater opportunity for you to process what is being said.
Speak in a natural voice, taking natural pauses, rather than projecting.
Avoid speaking for you or yelling.
Check-in throughout the conversation and ask if anything needs to be clarified.
Sharing these strategies allows others to participate in making conversations more
accessible and effective.
Know your limits. It is important to be aware of your limits. This includes knowing the types of environments that are more challenging for you to hear in and the scenarios that make it difficult to participate in conversations: conversations with multiple people, social settings, noisy restaurants etc. This allows you to make useful adjustments to help support your hearing.
Practicing these strategies can enhance communication. Contact us to learn more about the hearing technologies that are available to help you maximize your hearing.