Tips for Communicating with Deaf & Hard of Hearing People

Tips for Communicating with Deaf & Hard of Hearing People

One in five Americans is living with hearing loss, so there’s a good chance you know someone who struggles to hear. A close friend or family member is probably hard of hearing, but there’s no reason that should affect your relationship. If your loved one has hearing loss, you know it can be a struggle to communicate. You want your relationship to be as strong as it once was, but when you feel like you repeat everything multiple times, even a simple conversation can turn into a frustrating experience for everyone.

Here are some tips to help you communicate and build strong relationships with the hard of hearing people in your life.

All Conversations Should Happen Face-On

If you want your loved one to understand you, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re facing them. Don’t ever yell from another room, or speak with your back to them while you’re getting a drink or washing up after dinner. They won’t be able to hear your clearly from across the house or even across the room, and may not even realize you’ve started speaking to them. Take the time to face your loved one, get their attention, and give them your focus. Your loved one is straining to understand and is giving 100% of their energy to be able to talk to you, so you need to put in the effort too. Taking the time to face your loved one when you’re talking will be rewarding for both of you, as you enjoy smooth communication.

Get on The Same Level

Another tip to make communication a breeze is to be on the same eye level. If your loved one is sitting down, then pull up a chair. Being at eye level with the person you’re talking to is incredibly important as this increases their ability to focus on your face, hear clearly, and understand you easily. When you’re at eye level, your loved one can use all their tools to understand, from watching your lips to reading nonverbal ques. 

Don’t Shout

It’s tempting to shout if someone is having trouble hearing you. What you might not know is that shouting is actually the worst thing you can do to communicate! Raising your voice will only communicate your frustration, not what you’re trying to say. The trick is to speak clearly and a little slower, but not more loudly. Speak at a normal volume, and don’t over-enunciate. Your loved one isn’t stupid, and shouting at them sends the wrong message. Speaking clearly will help them read your lips, and get your point across without raising your voice or sounding angry.

Using American Sign Language

It’s easy to assume that all deaf or hard of hearing people you meet will know American Sign Language. While many people in the hard of hearing community do sign, don’t assume that everyone can. Before practicing the ASL phrases you’ve learned, make sure you ask whether or not the person signs.

Mind Your Manners

Language is important. The words you use can either make someone feel comfortable and accepted, or can make them feel ostracized. In the hard of hearing community, it’s considered rude to refer to someone as hearing impaired. Deafness is not a disability or a sign that something is wrong with the person, so always say deaf or hard of hearing when talking about your friends who struggle to hear. If you don’t know, there’s nothing wrong with asking! It is better to ask about the language people use than to make assumptions.

Treating Hearing Loss

If your loved one has hearing loss, these tips will help you communicate smoothly, and maintain a healthy relationship. But there’s still one thing left to do, and that is to encourage your hard of hearing friend or family member to seek treatment for their hearing loss. Remind them of all the sounds they’re missing, like the chirping of birds, or the sound of the children laughing. 

Does your loved one already wear a hearing device? If they’ve been struggling to hear recently, it might be time for their yearly hearing assessment, to make sure their hearing aid is still the best fit.

Whatever the case may be, visit us at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions to find the perfect device to suit your needs, and get back to communicating easily.

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