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Talking to Friends and Family Who Have Hearing Loss

by April Maguire

Nearly 40 million Americans currently suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Typically, people think of hearing loss as a condition that predominantly affects the elderly, however the truth is that more than half of those who are hearing-impaired are under the age of 65.

While hearing-assistive technology has certainly advanced in recent years, it still has its limitations. Most assistive listening devices, like hearing aids and cochlear implants, can only amplify and clarify certain types of sounds, but even with the help of these devices, sounds don’t come through crystal clear. So even though assistive listening devices do provide some aid for the hearing-impaired, people suffering from hearing loss can have difficulty communicating in everyday situations.

If you know someone suffering from hearing loss and want to make communication easier for him or her, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind:

Speak More Slowly

Our brains need time to process sounds. When those sounds are modified by electronic devices, the brain may need a little longer to interpret what it’s hearing. So by speaking slowly and clearly enunciating your words, you can give hearing impaired listeners the time they need to accurately process what you’re saying.

No Need To Shout

According to popular wisdom, it’s a good idea to talk loudly or even shout in order for people with hearing loss to hear you. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is flawed. Talking louder can help in some situations, but assistive listening devices often distort loud sounds, ironically making it more difficult for the person you’re talking with to understand you.

Limit Background Noise

When talking with someone who’s hearing impaired, it’s a good idea to limit all other types of noise. If you’re out at a restaurant, try to find a quiet corner. If you’re at home, consider turning off the television or move to a quiet room.

Talk Facing Each Other

Perhaps most importantly, always try and maintain eye contact when talking with someone who is hearing impaired. Not only will speaking directly to them make it easier for them to hear you, but conversations also contain a lot of nonverbal cues. By looking at you, a hearing impaired person can pick up on hand gestures and facial expressions and even read your lips.

Interpersonal communication is an essential part of our lives. By keeping these tips in mind, you can help to make sure that hearing impaired friends or family members don’t feel left out of the conversation.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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