Most of us have heard the phrase “good communication is key” countless times, but the reason we’ve heard it over and over again, is because it’s true. When was the last time bad communication got you what you wanted or helped you achieve success? Probably never. Communicating and experiencing hearing loss can be difficult.
One of the biggest components of good communication is understanding. If either participant in a conversation isn’t fully understood, then good communication isn’t happening. Making sure that both participants are being heard clearly is important when hearing loss is a concern.
If you work in an assembly area that is open to the public (such as courtrooms, movie theaters, classrooms, stadiums, museums, or other similar venues), you will probably have occasional interactions with those who have hearing loss.
After all, hearing loss is the third most common health problem in older Americans, with approximately 29 million people in the U.S. needing hearing aids.
Communication and hearing loss is something that you should be prepared for. Even when hearing aids and active listening strategies are used by the person with hearing loss, it is crucial that you do your part to ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as possible.
What Can I Do?
There are several things you can do to prepare yourself. Here is a basic list to help get you started.
- Face the hearing-impaired person directly, on the same level.
- Utilize good lighting whenever possible. Position yourself so that the light is shining on your own face. This helps the hearing-impaired person read your lips.
- Communicate while in the same room, and make sure the hearing-impaired person can see you. This is a common reason why people have trouble following a conversation.
- Speak clearly, slowly, and distinctly — but naturally, without shouting.
- Don’t exaggerate mouth movements. This makes reading lips more difficult.
- Say the person’s name before beginning a conversation. This gives the other person a chance to focus their attention on the conversation.
- Avoid talking too rapidly or using sentences that are too complex. Slow down a little, and pause between sentences or phrases. Wait to make sure you have been understood before continuing.
- Keep your hands away from your face while talking. If you are eating, chewing, smoking, etc. while talking, your speech will be more difficult to understand.
- Try to minimize the surrounding noise while talking. Most hearing-impaired people have greater difficulty understanding speech when there is a lot of background noise.
- If the hearing-impaired person has difficulty understanding a particular phrase or word, try to find a different way of saying the same thing rather than repeating the original words.
- If you are giving specific information – such as time, place or phone numbers – to someone who is hearing impaired, have them repeat the specifics back to you. Many numbers and words sound alike.
- Consider providing pertinent information in writing, such as directions, schedules, work assignments, etc. You can always ask the hearing-impaired person if they would like you to write it down.
Where can I get more information about communicating with someone who has hearing loss?
The following websites and organizations have additional resources and information about how to communicate with those who have hearing loss.
Also ask the person with hearing loss if there is anything you can do to communicate more effectively on your end. Some people will have their own preferences, and all people with hearing loss have varying levels that might influence how they are able to communicate with others.
Listen Technologies is here to assist your business in providing the necessary ADA accommodations. Give us a call at (800) 330-0891 to request more information.