Tips for Helping Others Communicate Clearly When You Have Hearing Loss

Tips for Helping Others Communicate Clearly When You Have Hearing Loss

In Communication, Hearing Loss by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A
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If you have hearing loss then you may experience how much more energy it takes in order to follow a conversation. Hearing aids are amazing for helping us to hear with greater ease and connect to people—however, even with this added advantage listening to conversation and responding takes added focus, energy, and patience. Many people without hearing loss are in the dark of these communication challenges. The good news is that when you are open about your hearing loss, it gives you the opportunity to ask for what you need in regards to improved communication. You may have an idea of what works to help you communicate but struggle to put it into words. The good news is that we’ve compiled a list of common tactics, which may help you and others with hearing loss communicate with ease.

Talking to someone with hearing loss

You may have already found that some environments are much easier to hear in than others. One of the most significant things we can do to improve our ability to hear is modify the listening environment. 

  • Make sure the room has enough lighting: Whether we realize it or not, when we have hearing loss, we rely a lot on visual cues to help us hear. This can mean lip reading, body language and facial expression. Make sure that if you are struggling to hear that you ask the other person to ensure that you have a clear view. Turn on a light, ask them to avoid covering their face and make sure they aren’t trying to speak to you from another room. 
  • Pick a place that has minimum background noise: One of the most challenging hurdles of living with hearing loss, even after it’s been treated with hearing aids is struggling to hear in noise. Many hearing aids today now use directional microphones which prioritize amplifying the sounds directly in front of you. This means the person speaking in front of you will be amplified more while ambient sounds and other conversations are limited. If you don’t have this feature, don’t worry. Ask the person to turn down competing sounds. Switch off the stereo, and wait to run dishwashers and AC units till later. If you can’t control distracting sounds in your environment and you want to focus on communication, then suggest moving to a quieter environment. 
  • Make it easy to see everyone’s faces:  If you are attending a social event or a meeting, making sure you can see everyone’s faces will help you to track who is speaking. Insist on a seating arrangement where you aren’t having to face anyone’s back.

Improving Your Listening Environment

If you have been having trouble hearing even with your hearing aids, here are a few tips to help make your environment set up for hearing success

  • Eating out: We all love restaurants, but they are often a source of a noisy night out. There are often multiple conversations happening at once from other dining guests, waiters and background music and the clattering of pots and pans from a noisy kitchen. Before you go do your research. Pick a restaurant with ample lighting, quiet or no music and carpeting which can help to insulate sound. Try picking a time to eat where there will be less action. Choose going on the earlier side of a dinner or lunch rush, vs. the height of business.
  • When attending a group event at home, let everyone know what helps you to hear. If possible, turn down unneeded sounds. If you are struggling to hear someone, suggest moving to a quieter room.

Addressing a Hearing Loss

If you are struggling to hear consistently even with the use of hearing aids, it can sometimes mean that you have an issue which needs to be addressed. Hearing loss is not static and often becomes worse overtime even with treatment. Make sure you schedule annual hearing loss so we can monitor your hearing aid program, adjust, and ensure that you still have the most effective hearing treatment for your specific situation. You already know just how essential hearing aids are for your everyday communication and quality of life. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.