What is the first thing many people do when they find out they are talking to a person who is hard of hearing? Yell? Walk away? Address another person instead? Ignore them? Many people do not know what to do differently when talking to someone with hearing loss and so even the best intentions can seem cruel. Talking to someone who struggles to hear is not as simple as you might think or maybe it is more simple than you thought.

Here are some guidelines to follow to help your loved one with hearing loss understand you better.

•Ask for strategies that work best; speak louder, slow down, etc.

•Speak at a normal rate.

•Avoid chewing, eating, or covering your mouth while speaking.

•Keep a close distance between you and the listener (no more than 6 feet).

•Use Facial expression and gestures.

•Make sure your face is visible to the listener

•Move away from background noise.

•Avoid sudden changes in topic.

•Give the listener enough time to comprehend your message and respond.

•Do not talk from another room.

•Rephrase (don’t repeat)

•If you are giving specific information (e.g., time for a meeting) ask the hearing-impaired listener to repeat the information to verify correct reception.

•Do not let intensity of your voice drop at the end of your sentences.

•During a group presentation, provide a brief outline of the presentation with any new vocabulary. Make use of visual aids; Be careful not to talk while you are looking at the visual aids (e.g., blackboard) and away from the audience. Re-state any questions from the audience.

•Volunteer to use an assistive device the listener may have (such as an external microphone or personal FM system).

Adapted from works posted on Hearing Loss Association of America website.

This information is brought to you by Dr. Yoder of HearWell Center. For more information about HearWell Center please visit our website www.hearwellcenter.com