A little while ago, we published a list of 10 tips for communicating with people who are hard of hearing. Now, we’ve put together a new list of things you can do to make sure communication is as smooth as possible.
If you know someone with hearing loss, take a read of these tips and remember to use them! These simple communication strategies can make a world of difference to a person with hearing loss.
1. Never say ‘it doesn’t matter’. If a person with hearing loss asks you to repeat what was said, do not dismiss their request, even if the missed snippet was trivial or inconsequential. Being told ‘it doesn’t matter’ can feel lazy and dismissive, and can lead to the person with hearing loss feeling left out.
2. Make eye contact before speaking. This is a very important one that’s very easy to forget! If you need to speak to a person with hearing loss, ensure you have their attention first. Make eye contact, or politely tap them on the arm. Do not attempt to speak to them when you are out of their line of sight, or in another room.
3. Don’t assume that if someone has hearing aids, they will be able to hear you perfectly. Hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal, and the person who is wearing them may still need you to make an effort to communicate effectively.
4. Aim for one-on-one conversations. Group conversations can be especially tricky to follow when you live with hearing loss. If you notice a friend with hearing loss struggling to take part in a group conversation, consider taking them aside for a one-on-one chat instead.
5. Be polite. Don’t speak to people with hearing loss in a manner that suggests they are not as smart as you. This seems very obvious, but it is actually a common complaint from people who are hard of hearing.
6. Avoid abrupt topic changes. It’s normal to change topics throughout a conversation, but just make sure you do it in a way that isn’t unexpected or too abrupt – this can be very confusing for a person with hearing loss who is focusing very hard on trying to hear, especially during group conversations.
7. Don’t raise your voice. Raising your voice or shouting can come across as aggressive. It can also be physically uncomfortable for people with hearing aids.
8. Don’t give up! Never forget that communication is a two way street, so when talking to someone with hearing loss you have to do your bit to make the conversation flow.