Hearing loss can be very frustrating both for those who suffer from this unseen disability and for those trying to communicate with them. For the speaker, there is the constant irritation of having to repeat themselves or feel like they need to shout to be understood. For the hearing impaired, having to maintain the constant focus needed to carry on a simple conversation can be exhausting.
Speakers using some basic techniques like speaking directly to the person and speaking clearly can be a great help. And, of course, hearing aids can make a world of difference. But, there will always be times that communicating with the hearing impaired will remain a challenge.
Here are our top 5 things to keep in mind when communicating with the hearing impaired.
1. Hearing Aids are great but
Hearing aids have come a long way since the days of simple sound amplifiers. Today’s digital models are great at distinguishing different types of sounds and filtering out background noise. However, they are not perfect.
Remember to use best practices to help the person with hearing issues understand you, even if they do have hearing aids.
2. Hearing loss is physical, not mental
If someone with hearing issues makes an odd comment it doesn’t mean their minds are slipping. Chances are they simply misunderstood what was said. Brush it off and repeat yourself speaking slower and more precisely.
3. They aren’t being rude
If you call someone with hearing problems and they don’t answer you, they aren’t being rude. They just can’t hear you. Get their attention before speaking to them and face them directly.
4. The hearing impaired want to be included
Though it can be frustrating, people with hearing problems want to be included in conversations. Don’t tell them what was said doesn’t matter or just never mind. This can lead to feelings of exclusion and isolation.
5. Don’t shout, speak clearly
The keys to communicating with the hearing impaired are to enunciate your words clearly and speak directly to them. Shouting at them is not much, if any, help. In fact, if they are wearing hearing aids it may actually make understanding you harder.