How to Communicate with a Hearing-Impaired Person

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Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent – and invisible – conditions that people deal with on a daily basis. We rely on our hearing for communication, and with a large number of people developing hearing loss, it’s so important to understand how to communicate effectively so that you can be inclusive and understanding to their needs. Someone with hearing loss is generally not ignoring you. Their ears and hearing structure do not work the same as a person who can hear well, which means that you still need to maintain dignity and politeness as you would anyone else. Hearing loss is not a joke, something to tease about or something to be mistreated. 

Talking to someone with hearing loss is easy once you know how to capture their attention.

Treating a person with hearing loss as you would anyone else is vital, and you should try to understand how to communicate with those in your life with hearing loss. It may be a little more demanding than speaking to a person who can hear well, but there are plenty of things that you can do to enhance your communication with someone with hearing loss. 

They may not know if you’re talking to them to start with, which is why the one thing that you need more than anything is patience. It’s especially harder if the situation that you are in is a noisy one, so here are some of the things that you can do to communicate with someone with hearing loss:

Go somewhere quiet

Finding somewhere quiet to talk is a necessity when you are talking to someone with hearing loss. Machines and people can make it so difficult to hear anything, and with lots of voices, you can be drowned out by people around you. A quiet place is somewhere; you can communicate effectively and understand each other. 

Make sure you have light

Many of those who are dealing with hearing loss get advice from a hearing instrument specialist to take lipreading classes. With a good amount of light on your face, you can ensure that the person with hearing loss can see your expressions and your lips moving. If you are in a dark room or sitting in front of a window, your face won’t be visible. 

Gain attention

Never wave your hands in their face to get their attention. Instead, tap them lightly on the shoulder or arm from the front while calling their name. You have to remember that anything that is impatient can be seen as mocking, and you want to avoid that and remain respectful.

Define conversation

Before you go into a conversation with someone who needs help to hear, tell them the topic of conversation so that they can find clarity in it. Not every person with a hearing loss is the same; some may be profoundly deaf, but others may not be. So, you should be open about any issues you have with communication and let them take the lead if necessary. It’s always polite to ask them what would be best for them so that if they prefer round tables in social situations, or want to ensure that they can see everyone involved in the conversation, they can request that from you. 

Gestures and expression

Most individuals who deal with hearing loss make a point of learning to lip read. When they do this, they can gain more information when you use appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures. You don’t need to exaggerate those gestures; you just need to use the necessary signals and expressions for the conversation. Many people will try to shout and exaggerate the words they use – there is no need for it. Of course, this depends on whom you are speaking to. If it’s someone that you know well enough, they may appreciate big gestures and if it’s a new person, you should take the time to slow down until they tell you otherwise. Take off any sunglasses or face coverings if possible, as it can help to read your facial cues when speaking.

If you are in any doubt about your own hearing, then you should speak to a hearing instrument specialist. They will be able to talk you through what you need to do for lipreading classes and give you the help you need to figure out how to cope with a hearing-impaired life. Learn more about West Family Hearing and call this phone number at 425-245-8507 for more help with your hearing.


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