It’s estimated that approximately 466 million people around the world deal with disabling hearing loss. Hearing aids may be able to open communications for these individuals, but the unfortunate truth is that only around 17 percent of those who could benefit from the use of one of these devices have access to them. Even for those who do have hearing aids, their use is not a foolproof way to ensure open verbal communication.
Communication is a two-way street, and additional strategies may be required to ensure that your message is both delivered and understood when speaking to someone hard of hearing. After taking advantage of hearing diagnostic services, take these steps to maintain an open line of communication between yourself and your loved one:
Pay Attention to Positioning
Even those individuals who have access to properly functioning hearing aids often rely on lip-reading to maintain communication throughout their day. Keep this in mind when you are speaking to someone with hearing loss. A good place to start is by being mindful of your position. Ideally, you should:
- Face the person directly
- Stand on as even a level as possible
- Position yourself so that light is on your face, not in the hearing-impaired person’s eyes
Enunciate Your Words
As you’re speaking, make sure your words are clear, distinct, and slow. Ensuring each of your words is clear and well-enunciated lessens the likelihood of your information being misunderstood by your listener. Speaking slower allows your listener additional time to process the information you’re providing them with, which further facilitates easier communication on both ends.
Speak at a Normal Volume
When speaking to someone hard of hearing, many people are tempted to raise their voices in hopes that this will make them more audible. However, this is one of the worst things you can do when dealing with hard-of-hearing communication.
Speaking at a higher volume does more harm than good in most cases. Yelling, shouting, or raising your voice too much distorts both the sounds you’re making and the movements of your mouth, making your message harder to access for both those who rely on lip-reading and those hearing-impaired individuals who rely on hearing aids.
Though you’re speaking more slowly and with clearer enunciation, ensure you’re also speaking at a normal volume. If it seems your listener is not understanding what you’re saying, do not raise your voice in an attempt to help them hear you better. Instead, repeat the message with clearer enunciation and a bit more slowly if possible. If this doesn’t send the message, consider rephrasing it and trying again.
Get Their Attention
In order to alert a hard of hearing person that you’re about to speak, it’s necessary to get their attention. For those that you know well, such as family members and close friends, this is most easily accomplished by tapping them lightly on the shoulder or arm. This should be done from the front whenever possible, not from behind. If you do not know your listener well, consider saying their name clearly or giving them a small wave. Informing a hearing-impaired person that you’re about to speak allows them to ready themselves to listen to your message and ensures the beginning of your sentence is not missed.
Service Hearing Aids
Hearing aids don’t completely solve the communication barrier between hearing and hearing-impaired parties, but they certainly help. If your loved one uses a hearing aid but seems to be struggling to hear despite your best efforts, it may be time to have their hearing aid repaired. However, before you jump to this step, you can perform some troubleshooting at home to ensure it’s not an easy fix. If your loved one has been having hearing aid problems:
- Ensure the aid is turned on
- Replace the battery
- Check the volume settings
- Change the wax filter
If none of these simple troubleshooting measures work, contact a hearing center in Houston that specializes in hearing aid repair. Keep in mind that, depending on the cause of the device’s malfunction, it may need to be returned to the manufacturer for repairs, which could leave your loved one without their aid for an extended period of time. Consider working with a Houston hearing center that offers loaner hearing aids to hearing-impaired people who are waiting on repairs.
Work With Professionals
If you want to learn more about how to communicate with the hard-of-hearing people in your life, contact Memorial Hearing. Our staff is trained to not only diagnose and prevent hearing loss but can also recommend resources to those who are looking for better ways to communicate effectively on an everyday basis. From initial hearing tests to hearing aid fittings in Houston, we’re here to offer support to both our patients and their families in every possible way.
Reach out at (713) 984-7562 or contact us online for all your hearing needs.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/9nong