If you are reading this, it is probably because someone you know and care about has hearing loss. Hearing loss, particularly if it is left untreated, can have a significant impact on someone’s quality of life and those around them. By having family and friends on board and knowing they are supporting and helping can make a big difference to someone with hearing loss. Here, we look at some of the things you can do to show your support.
Someone with a hearing impairment is not ignoring you, and they are not stupid. Their ears may not work as well as they should, but the rest of them is absolutely fine.
What a person with hearing loss requires is kindness, compassion, and communication. Treat those with hearing loss the way you want to be treated if it were you. Take the time to talk to them and learn more about the issues that they face.
When a person talks, others obtain information not just from what is said, but also from what is seen. Such clues accompany and reinforce each other, allowing us to follow a conversation. Visual speech signals are incredibly important for people with hearing loss. Simple acts on your part, as a hearing person, will dictate the ease with which such visual cues can be followed.
What is the best way to communicate with a hearing-impaired person?
Communicating with people who have a hearing impairment is a bit more challenging than talking to a hearing person. There are some things you can do to improve communication between you and someone who has a hearing impairment.
Someone with a hearing impairment may not realize that you are talking to them, especially if they are in a noisy environment, so it is important to:
- Find a quiet place to speak if possible. Noisy environments, whether from people, machines, etc., make it difficult to hear; other noises drown voices. Carpets, curtains, and soft furniture help to absorb noise.
- Make sure that where you are sitting is well lit and that there is plenty of light on your face. If you are sitting with your back to a window, your face will probably be in darkness, and it will make the other person struggle to lipread or pick up visual clues from your face.
- Make sure that you have their full attention before you start to speak. Sometimes, you may need to tap them on the arm or shoulder gently – but always from the front, never the back, or by saying their name.
- Those who have hearing loss like to see the speaker’s eyes, which is true of most people, so try not to wear anything like sunglasses. It is important to keep your face and mouth as clear and visible as possible. Lots of us have a habit of covering our mouths when speaking, which makes lipreading incredibly tricky. After all, you can’t lipread if you can’t see someone’s lips!