Tips For Communicating With Those With Hearing Loss

Hearing is vital to connecting to the world around us. Communication is the basis to human connection as it allows for access to spoken language, interactions, and activities. For those with hearing loss, hearing impairment means that communication, relationships, and social activities are also often impaired. Hearing aid technology allows better access to speech and verbal communication, allowing the hearing impaired to function more normally and casually in their day-to-day activities. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that even the best hearing aid technology does not eliminate the need for good communication skills.

I frequently have patients tell me: “I can’t hear my wife/husband/kids/etc., but I can hear you just fine!” I’ll let you in on my secret: Clear Speech.

Use “Clear Speech” when communicating with those with hearing loss to improve their ability to follow and participate in conversation.

Clear speech is:

• Accurate and fully formed

• Naturally slower (this happens automatically when you attempt to be clearer)

• Naturally louder (your voice raises automatically when you attempt to be clearer)

• Lively, with a full range of voice intonation (tone) and stress on key words

• Characterized by pauses between all phrases and sentences

Using clear speech will be most effective in combination with other communication strategies such as reducing background noise, reducing distance from the speaker and listener (e.g. not talking to a hearing-impaired person from another room), facing the listener when speaking, and allowing clear, unobstructed view of the speaker’s face so that visual cues can be utilized. Remember, you don't need to shout, you just need to talk slower, slightly louder, and with more intent. Utilizing clear speech takes effort! It is not always natural to slow down your speech and talk with intent. Start practicing this with your loved ones with hearing impairment and let us know how it helps!

Information adapted from “Communication is a Two-Way Street” by Oticon.

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LeAnn Clements, Au.D, CCC-A Clinical Audiologist at Hill Country Ear, Nose & Throat

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