Do you know someone with hearing loss? Here are five ways that you can help them.
1. Be in the same room when talking to them
Speech sounds do not always bend around the corners of rooms and through doorways to reach the person clearly. By being in the same room, your speech sounds are much more likely to reach the person you are talking to.
2. Don’t talk from further than 8-10 feet away
If the person has hearing aids, they typically do not work as well from further than 10 feet away. If the hearing aids are set loud enough to have them hear you at a distance, than the hearing aids would likely be too loud otherwise and be uncomfortable. Speech sounds, especially the high pitched soft speech sounds, really drop off in volume over distance and may not be nearly strong enough for someone to hear.
3. Face the person
Facing the person with hearing loss allows them to read your lips, your gestures and facial expressions. All of this information helps that person understand what you are saying. Only about 30% of speech is visual on the lips, but an extra 30% to help understand can be a big deal!
4. Speak at a normal volume
Or maybe, if you are soft spoken, speak with a little extra volume. But try not to shout at the person, even when he/she is asking you to repeat yourself. Often times, it is not that he/she can’t HEAR you, it is that he/she can’t UNDERSTAND you. If the person has hearing aids, sometimes the extra volume is uncomfortable and then he/she will turn the hearing aids down making it harder to hear you. Just keep a good, strong voice, but no shouting!
5. Speak slowly
Often times, the person with the hearing loss needs to “fill in the gaps” of what they can’t hear clearly. If you speak too quickly, he/she will often miss what you are saying because he/she is still back at the beginning filling in the gaps. Speak at a slow rate, not ridiculously slow, but slow down a tad and add some pauses to allow him/her to catch up.