How to Talk to People With Hearing Loss

Hand and facial gestures are a great tool to help in communicating with someone who has hearing loss.
Hand and facial gestures are a great tool to help in communicating with someone who has hearing loss. | Source

Communicating with Someone Who Has Hearing Loss

Suffering from hearing loss is difficult and very frustrating for everyone involved. That means not only the person who has a hard time hearing but those around them who are trying to communicate with them.

Proper Communication Skills When Dealing With Hearing Loss

Although a variety of assistive hearing devices are available, they don’t always work as intended depending on the progression of the hearing loss. Even when a person utilizes hearings aids for instance, it is critical that others use good strategies when engaging in communication to maximize the effectiveness.

Tips to Communicate When Someone Has a Loss of Hearing

Get Their Attention

Before even beginning to speak, be sure to have the attention of the listener. Use their name if necessary to be sure they know you are speaking to them.

Reduce Background Noise

It is important to eliminate background noise as much as possible. Be sure to turn off televisions and radios. Move to a different location if there is a background noise such as a dishwasher running. If you are out in public trying converse in a crowded location, try to find seating without much distance in between. Try to arrange sitting across from the hearing impaired person to be able to look at each other face to face.

Only One Person Should Speak at a Time

More than one person trying to speak at the same time, or talk over each other when conversing with a person who has hearing loss, will be confusing and have the potential of misinterpretation.

Speak Every Word Clearly

Keep these things in mind to be sure that you are communicating clearly.

  • Do not mumble.
  • Do not cover your mouth with your hands.
  • Do not smoke when talking.
  • Do not eat or chew gum when trying to speak.
  • Directly face the person.
  • Speak slowly.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Never try to shout something from another room where the listener cannot visually see you.

Trying to communicate with  a person who  has hearing loss can be frustrating.  We may feel the only way to be heard is by using a megaphone. But that really won't be necessary.
Trying to communicate with a person who has hearing loss can be frustrating. We may feel the only way to be heard is by using a megaphone. But that really won't be necessary. | Source

Talk Loudly

When speaking to someone with hearing loss, it may be necessary to speak more loudly than you normally would. Do not shout as it can distort your words. Simply annunciate your words clearly.

Repeat Your Words

Sometimes, people with hearing loss give you a sign such as shaking their head, nodding to let you know they understand what you have said. But that is not always the case. Be sure to repeat yourself if you feel it is necessary.

Rephrase Your Words

If you feel your words were not understood, it may be easier if you rephrase what you are trying to say into shorter words and sentences. Do not talk too fast and use sentences that are too complex.

Use Facial Expressions and Hand Gestures

Using facial expressions, hand gestures and body language will also add to the communication being properly understood.

Good Lighting

When conversing with someone who has hearing loss, be sure to sit or stand in a location where there is good lighting. Allow the person to see your face clearly so they can lip read if they are able. Be sure the light is on the speaker’s face and not bothersome to the listener.

Communicating With a Hearing Impaired Person in a Group Setting

Be sure that the listener understands the general topic of conversation. Try not to suddenly change the topic. If necessary, repeat key pieces of the conversation to be sure they are understood.

Use Written Communication if Necessary

If you are trying to communicate important information such as a work assignment, deadlines, schedules, directions, etc., repeat the information in writing.

Be as Understanding as Possible When Communicating With Someone Who Has Hearing Loss

Even though you may feel frustrated and even begin to get angry trying to speak with a person who has hearing loss, try for a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Help them cope by not showing your frustration. Rephrase and change the words for what you are trying to convey. Be understanding and have patience.

Interesting Facts about Hearing Loss

  • Over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents
  • Hearing aids do offer dramatic improvement for most people with hearing loss
  • Listening to extremely loud music can cause permanent hearing damage over time
  • It is estimated that approximately 12% of Americans have significant hearing loss
  • At least 14% of people age 45-64 have some type of hearing loss; that number rises significantly to 30-40% in those over 65
  • “Speech-reading” is the current term used more often than “lip-reading”

Final Thoughts on How to Talk to People with Hearing Loss

If you are communicating with someone who you know has better hearing in one ear than the other, position yourself accordingly.

One important thing to keep in mind is to always have a good sense of humor. This will help eliminate a build-up of frustration.

If you feel the person with hearing loss would benefit from an appointment with a physician, please help them do so.

This is Sharyn’s Slant

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Comments 45 comments

Sunnie Day 4 years ago

This was so great and very useful Sharon..So many have hearing loss and this is such a wonderful hub giving us the tools to use when talking to someone who has hearing loss. Great job!

Sunnie


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Very useful hub Sharon. I have slight hearing loss (only on some frequencies) and can't hear people if there is a lot of background noise where I am, so I am constantly turning off or down. My father has considerable hearing loss and I think these tips would be extra helpful when talking to someone in his situation. I think the most important one of all is probably get their attention - it's amazing how often people speak to him when he can't see them because he's turned the other way and of course he doesn't know they are talking.

Great hub.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

Sharyn it is so HARD communicating with someone who has hearing loss. My companion does and he wont see the doctor about it, so I often end up shooting too loud in frustration - or worse, let him live in his own non-hearing world. Until he takes some steps to do something for himself it is very hard for me because I always have to realize he can't hear properly. I don't always have the patience, especially if I say something to him like 'don't forget your keys' when he is at the door - and he walks out without the keys, then comes back half an hour later because he forgot the keys!!! Grgrgrgr.

Your hub is immensley important and a super reminder how to deal with people who can't hear and it's no nice you make it clear it is hard for us too. Thanks. FB this etc.


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ThePracticalMommy 4 years ago from United States

Excellent and compassionate article! It can be very frustrating to speak to someone who is hard of hearing, especially when you're trying to communicate something important but we must remember to be patient and try our best to convey the message.

Voted up, useful, and sharing! And congrats on the 100th hub!


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jimmythejock 4 years ago from Scotland

Around 5 years ago, I had an infection in my ears and could not hear a thing, my wife and I used msn messenger to speak to each other. This Hub brought back memories of that time.....jimmy


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fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Sharyn.....First, let me give you 5 gold stars for this hub. You have become an incredibly talented and effective writer, and just continue to get better all the time. This shows how much your heart and mind directs your work. Bless you and much success to you.

I have dealt with those whose hearing has declined via aging....and learned a lot in the process. Your hub covers it, down to the letter.

I must add though, that my late sister and I, were able to get beyond the frustration & impatience...the same way we got through any such issue......HUMOR. Both our mother and her older sister had lost some of their hearing power....they got together for dinner every evening, and once in a while, would ask my sister and I to join them.....They literally SCREAMED back & forth at each other. So, Pat and I bought ourselves some ear plugs for the occasions..!!!

Thanks for the great hub, Sharyn......UP+++


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Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Excellent advice! I often am in a setting with older people who are likely to have hearing loss, and sometimes communication is difficult. Your tips are so helpful as people with hearing loss will often rely on lip movement, facial expressions and hand gestures to help understand someone who is speaking. Voted up and shared!


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nybride710 4 years ago from Minnesota

Wonderful tips! Both of my teenage daughters have a moderate hearing loss inherited from their father. Even after living with them for 16 and 13 years, I still forget these sometimes. I know that a lot of times out in public, I have to act as a facilitator when I know they have missed what someone said to them.


GoldenThreadPress 4 years ago

My daughter is hearing impaired and I appreciate your insight to write such an informative article. I know that it isn't intentional that those who haven't experienced any hearing loss mistake a blank look (which actually means that they are trying so hard to understand) as being "unintelligent." I hope everyone gets a chance to read your Hub. Kudos!


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Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

This is a great topic and very well-written. I have a relative with moderate hearing loss, the result of aging, and I recently encountered someone with severe hearing loss and difficulty speaking and it was a challenge for us to communicate. I felt I could have handled the situation better. Very helpful tips - voted up and sharing!


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marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Sharon,

This is comprehensive, detailed and informative.

In the many students I have taught, one nurse promptly identified herself as having a major hearing loss, relied on lip reading. She wrote in her evaluation that I was the only teacher who asked others to look at her directly, would not tolerate a buzz with others talking to each other and that she could hear in this class. I have cherished that.

Your guidelines would help anyone else do the same, especially with their loved ones. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Sunnie ~ Thanks so much for your sweet comments. I do hope this hub helps others be patient with those who have hearing loss. I'm so glad you stopped by.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Yvonne ~ Thank you so much for sharing your story about yourself and also your father. I agree with the "getting their attention." If you don't do that, you really can't get anywhere with the conversation. Currently, I am having a really difficult time speaking to my father. And he is so stubborn, he doesn't want to spend the money on hearing aids. I keep trying to reinforce how he will have a better quality of life if he does. Thank you so much for your great feedback.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Penelope ~ I agree. My dad has hearing loss that just keeps getting worse quickly. He doesn't want to go to the doctor. I sense your aggravation for sure. I hope some of these tips help your situation. Thank you for your feedback and sharing this article too.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Marissa ~ Thank you for the compliments, votes and sharing too. Very much appreciated!

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Jimmy ~ Ha, that's a great idea to use MSN messenger. I do understand. I also had a problem with my ears, some sort of infection. It's very difficult to communicate and frustrating too. Thanks for your feedback.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Paula ~ I apologize for it taking me so long to get to all my comments. Thank you so much for the 5 gold stars:) Your compliments mean the world to me. Your story about you and your sister visiting your mom and aunt made me laugh. I certainly could see humor in your life no matter what the situation. And listening to your mom and aunt scream at each other must have been a show. "You are cordially invited to dinner, hearing aides required."

Just this year, I brought Joe over to my Dad's house for dinner. Joe is the man the I took care of for a couple years. Neither one can hear and they screamed at each other too. I think they were both exhausted by the time dinner was over, ha. Thank you so much Paula for your great feedback and support.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Stephanie ~ I understand. I'm glad you found these tips helpful. Thanks for the votes and shares.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi nybride ~ I'm sorry to hear about your daughters inherited hearing loss. I could understand having to be a "facilitator" when you are out in public or when there is a lot of noise around. I'm happy to hear you feel these tips are helpful. Thank you so much for your feedback.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hello GoldenThreadPress ~ it's great to meet you. Thank you for the compliments. I do understand what you are saying about being hearing impaired being misconstrued as "unintelligent." That has got to be extremely aggravating for you as a parent. Hopefully, more and more people will be patient and understanding. I appreciate your feedback. Best wishes to you and your daughter.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Crystal ~ It really is a challenge to communicate with someone who has hearing loss. But there are techniques that really make the situation tolerable for everyone involved. Thanks so much for your great feedback and for sharing this article too.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Maria ~ I love your story. No doubt I could see you being 100% compassionate with your student who had hearing loss. How wonderful that she acknowledged you too. Thank you so much for your feedback and votes!

Sharyn


innerspin profile image

innerspin 4 years ago from uk

Good, solid advice here. My husband's increasingly hard of hearing. People think that because he wears hearing aids he can hear everything, but that's not the case.

I had an ear infection some years back that affected my hearing for a few weeks, so I have some empathy. There's no doubt it can be frustrating for both parties when communication is difficult, but a bit of thoughtfulness, as in your suggestions, really helps.


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Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi innerspin ~ it's great to meet you and thank you for the fan mail and follow. You are so right about people that wear hearing aids. They are not necessarily a "fix all." And you cannot assume someone can hear well because of the aids. I too have had an infection that affected my hearing so I understand in some ways what it can be like. Thank you so much for your great comments.

Sharyn


david stillwagon 3 years ago

My hearing is very poor due to my menieres disease. It is definitely depressing to have to ask someone to repeat what they have said over and over again.

good hub!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

My niece is hearing impaired from having meningitis as a baby. I forget and talk and look away from her. I feel bad when I do that. If I face her she can read some lips and she has a cochlear implant. I guess if I was around her more often I would get use to talking to her, but they live out of state and I don't see her often.

Many members of our family have hearing loss. This is a very good hub and I voted up.


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prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very inspiring hub. I learn many things here, especially about how to talk with them. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

Prasetio


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi David ~ I bet that is very aggravating for you. Maybe you could share these tips with your loved ones so they have a better understanding of what they could do to help your situation. I appreciate your feedback, best of luck.

Sharyn


alwaysamber 3 years ago

What a great hub. My mom actually has a hearing loss, so over the years I have learned to speak differently to her. She does wear hearing aids, but still does a lot of lip reading. My late grandmother had a hearing loss, as well, so from a young age I knew how to make both of them understand me. Thanks for writing on this topic!


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midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I have profound hearing loss in my right ear and find this to be true indeed. We should eliminate background noise or from shouting. It is true that you'd need to speak clearly with people with hearing loss, but never to shout, as it becomes shocking/irritating. Thanks for sharing this with us! Passing it on.


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Moonlake ~ I'm sure if your niece was not out of town and you saw her more often, you'd get used to some of the ways to better communicate with her. I hope that some of these tips help with everyday life with other family members. I really appreciate your feedback, thanks so much.

Sharyn


healthwealthmusic profile image

healthwealthmusic 3 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

My husband has a co-worker that is partially deaf. He seems to find communicating with him quite easy, and I assume the daily practice helps. I find that people with hearing problems tend to physically touch others more, and not always respect personal bubble space. Their world is definitely different in many ways than ours, and we need to learn how to understand them. It is still difficult for me to be comfortable around a person that is hard of hearing.


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Pras ~ I'm so glad you found this inspiring and helpful. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your vote as well.

Sharyn


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cclitgirl 3 years ago from Western NC

Here's a funny story: My MIL and my FIL are both hard of hearing. It's so bad that they go back and forth saying "WHAT?" "WHAT?" "WHAT?" Finally, one gets so frustrated he shouts the answer and the other one says, "WELL YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL!"

My hubby is in for it: his grandparents also went deaf, his parents went deaf and I told him I'd kick his butt if he repeats what he THOUGHT I said and it doesn't make sense. By that I mean sometimes even now I'll say something like, "I'll put the dog out," and he'll hear, "I'll get the dog on," and then he'll tell me I don't make sense. I love him, but man, I want to slap him and I told him that if he does that as an old man, I'll slap him and then ignore him. HAHAHAHA. *giggle* Your hub is awesome and yeah, I promise to tell my hubby I read it so that I might gain a little patience. ;)


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Amber ~ I also know people that do wear hearing aids and still lip read too. I thought it was because the hearing aids did not work as well as I thought they did. But as you know, if you are around them enough, you can figure out different ways to communicate. Thanks so much for your great feedback.

Sharyn


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland

What a great and useful hub with so much imformation. I have learned these things during my time I have been working with elderly. Many of my clients have hearing loss. I'm voting and sharing. This is good!!! :)


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Michelle ~ as someone with hearing loss, thank you so much for confirming what you've read here. Very much appreciated. Thanks for sharing this article too.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi healthwealthmusic ~ Interesting what you said about people with hearing problems "not always respecting personal bubble space." I can't really say if I agree or not. Although, as someone who has worked with elderly people who are hard of hearing, I feel that I have actually gotten in their "personal space" because I want to get their attention so I can communicate with them. I'm sorry that you feel it is difficult to be around people who are hard of hearing. Keep in mind that it is probably difficult for them too. Try some of these tips are are sure to help. I really appreciate your feedback. Thanks you for stopping by.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi CC ~ gosh you make me giggle :) The same type of misunderstood words that you have with your hubby reminds me of my dad. Today, I said to my dad "do you want breakfast" and he said "I already fed the dog." OMG, drives me nuts. I'm sure he heard absolutely nothing of what I asked but he assumed what I said.

Thanks for your silly feedback. Now, please be gentle with your hubby. There's lots of tips in this article that will help.

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Made ~ Thanks! That's great that you have learned so many of these things through working with the elderly. I have too. I appreciate your feedback and sharing. Take care,

Sharyn


David Lyman 3 years ago

I'm retired Navy, now at 69, have trouble hearing and have tried to get people who know me well to speak TO me. Many people in the retail world could make an effort also, but many of them don't make an effort to speak at all. Oh well. Great article. I think I'll make copies and give them to everyone I know.


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Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi David ~ I'm sure this is something that many people struggle with. And you are right, the "retail world" is a big "offender." I'm having a difficult time communicating with my dad right now. His hearing has gotten must worse lately. I try to make it a point to be in a position where I am right in front of him so that he can see my face when I'm trying to tell him something. Just that alone does help him understand what I am saying. I made an appointment for him to be evaluated for hearing aides through the VA. I'm hoping he is eligible for at least a reduced cost since they are so expensive. Thank you so much for your comment. Definitely have your family read this.

Take care,

Sharyn


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tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Excellent hub, more people than we think have hearing loss. Your suggestions are very good.


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Sharyn's Slant 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hello Traveler ~ I am so glad you appreciated these suggestions. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Sharyn


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Sharyn's Slant 6 months ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Thank you so much hearingaidguides for stopping by. So glad you found this useful!

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