Communication Strategies

The following communication strategies can help alleviate potential frustrations and ensure that people who have difficulty hearing can still effectively interact and engage with those around them.

  • Be willing to inform the speaker of your hearing difficulties. Suggest ways that they can help you understand.
  • Be conscious of the environment:
    • Is there background noise or conversation that may be distracting?
    • Is there sufficient light?
    • Is the room reverberant, or are there rugs and drapes to help absorb the echoes?
    • Can you position yourself so you can see the faces of the speaker?
    • If you are at a restaurant, ask to be seated away from the kitchen and in a booth.
  • Try to limit the number of speakers you engage with at a time: one-on-one conversations are easier than in a group.
  • It is helpful to have someone near you who can alert you to changes in the topic of conversation.
  • When you missed something that was said, ask for it to be repeated. Repeat the portion you heard to facilitate the flow of conversation.
  • If you cannot interrupt the speaker, ask someone near you to fill in the missed pieces.
  • Avoid pretending you understand what was said. This will only aggravate the problem and confuses things later.
  • Even through you may feel you are missing a lot, keep trying to follow the discussion. Some nonverbal cues may appear that will get you back on track.
  • Be patient and flexible. This will encourage the speaker to persist in conversation.

Helpful Tips for Family Members

  • Make sure you have the attention of the hearing impaired person before you begin speaking.
  • Keep in mind that information is best received when listening and looking, so...
    • Speak slowly and clearly; do not shout or over-articulate.
    • Try to avoid dropping the volume at the end of a sentence.
    • Face the person at all times.
    • Use gestures, facial expressions, and body language to get your point across.
    • Do not talk with anything in your mouth.
  • If something is not understood, change the wording instead of repeating exactly what you said.
  • Be sure the hearing impaired person knows the topic of conversation so that the right words will come to his mind. Clue him in when the subject of conversation changes.
  • Be patient! The hearing impaired person will likewise be frustrated by communication difficulties.