18 May Communication Tips
Clear communication is essential to avoid misunderstandings, embarrassment, frustration and to help allay anxiety. An appropriate smile or touch can mean a lot to the person who has a hearing loss. The following communication tips are designed to help anyone who wants to communicate effectively with someone who has a hearing loss.
Reduce all background noise to a minimum
Music, television, air conditioners, dishwashers and other people talking in the same room can interfere with a person’s ability to hear clearly. Either turn off the competing background noise or move away from it, so that your voice can more easily be heard by the person with the hearing problem.
Get the persons attention before you begin speaking
It is difficult for the person who has a hearing problem to speech read and to understand you if attention their focussed elsewhere.
Talk at a moderate rate
Slow down your rate of speech and pause after a few words before continuing. This allows the brain to process what is being said. The aging process slows down the transmission of information to the brain.
Always speak as clearly and accurately as possible
Consonants especially, should be articulated with care.
Do not over – articulate
Mouthing words or over – articulating is just as bad as mumbling. Over – articulating distorts sound and also makes speech reading more difficult.
Pronounce every name / subject with care
Make a reference to the name or place for easier understanding (ie.) “Joan, the girl from the office, or The Bay, the big department store”.
Change to a new subject at a slower rate
Make sure that the person follows the change to a new subject. A key word or two at the beginning of a new subject is a good indicator.
Be sure that important items are understood
Ask the person to repeat key pieces of information to be sure they are understood. Don’t just rely on a nod.
Do not attempt to converse with something in your mouth, such as food, cigarettes or chewing gum.
Do not cover your mouth with your hand.
Do not shout
Talk in a normal tone of voice. Shouting does not make your voice more distinct, although many people seem to think it does. Shouting distorts speech and therefore makes it more difficult for a hearing impaired person to understand. Shouting is embarrassing and unnecessary. In fact, it can cause discomfort to a hearing aid wearer. It is also almost impossible to look pleasant while shouting.
Address the listener directly
Do not turn away in the middle of a remark or story. Make sure that the listener can see your face easily, with good lighting.
Use longer phrases, which tend to be easier to understand than short ones
For example, ‘Do you need milk from the grocery store?’ is less difficulty than ‘Do you need milk?’ Word choice is important here. Fifteen or fifty cents may be confusing, but a half dollar is clear.
Reword your sentence if the person does not understand
Do not repeat the same words over and over. Some words are easier to hear and speech read than others. Try to use other words that have the same meaning.
The nearer you are to the hard of hearing person, the clearer your speech. A good distance is 2 – 4 feet.
Allow seating preference in a group setting
Allow the hearing impaired person to sit as close to the main speaker as possible. Encourage only one speaker at a time and alert the person to a change in topic.
Keep the light on your face when speaking
This helps with lip reading.