How To Start A Conversation With The Hearing Impaired


Hearing loss can impact a person’s quality of life. Imagine how difficult it is to respond to people or join a conversation when you can’t hear anything. Your circle becomes limited because you can only interact with individuals who know how to communicate with you.

“Individuals who are deaf face challenges both similar and unique from those faced by hearing individuals when a family member is dying,” Karen A. Kehl, PhD, RN, ACHPN says.

Although there are hearing devices that can significantly improve the listening situation between a person without hearing loss and a person who has it, it is not a universal solution that can resolve all communication barriers involved with the disability.

“Everybody that’s involved in the field can probably tell stories about patients who weren’t offered adequate communication access (say, through interpretation), and lack of adequate communication can have dangerous implications,” shares David A. Ebert, MD, a semi retired internist in Chicago.

In most cases, people with hearing problems fear passing the disability to their children and they often feel isolated or lonely hence they are prone to depression and dementia. If you can’t bear the idea of living with hearing loss, how much more for those who are really experiencing it.


How To Communicate With Someone With Hearing Problem


Where You Sit Matters

One way to make sure that you have their attention is by facing them as you speak. Avoid sitting in a place where your face is blocked by a structure or wall. It is essential that your lips must be positioned in a way they can see it because people who are hearing impaired sometimes used lip reading to get a better understanding of what is being said to them. It would also help if you speak naturally and clearly so the sound would register better to their hearing aids.


Choose A Quiet Place


People wearing hearing aids get easily distracted by the noise around them. Therefore, it is better to have a conversation in a quiet place to prevent the devices from picking up background noises such as passing cars or barking dog that hinders effective communication.


Do Not Hesitate To Repeat Or Rephrase

Always remember that they can easily get lost during your conversation. An unfamiliar word can be difficult to process and cause confusion. Unfortunately, sometimes you may not notice it until you finish speaking and get no response. Reading their facial expression while you talk to them can be vital if you notice that they struggle to keep up with what you say stop, repeat or rephrase. See to it that they understand every word that you utter before you continue.


Do Not Exaggerate

Speaking at a rate that is too fast or too slow or moving your mouth in an exaggerated manner when forming words is not necessary when speaking with the hearing impaired. Not only you will look awkward and funny, but your expression can also make them uncomfortable and distracted. What will help is speaking naturally and giving them time to process your speech.


Body Language And Hand Gestures Are Useful


Annie G. Steinberg, MD, Steven Barnett, MD, and Helen E. Meador, PhD writes “People who are deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL) have much in common with members of other linguistic and cultural minority groups. These similarities include limited access to English language-based communication, infrequent contact with clinicians familiar with their language and culture, and the challenging experience of working with family members and friends as interpreters.”

When you get lost and ask for help, people give verbal directions and use their hands to give you an idea of where you should go. Frequently, you find hand gestures very useful than verbal instructions alone. The same thing goes for people who have hearing problems.

Mingling with people who have hearing loss is one way to make someone else life better. By learning the simple ways that can promote better conversation and spark interaction with those with hearing impairment you can make a huge difference.