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.