Communication tips for talking to people with hearing loss


September 20, 2022

Even without the added issue of hearing loss, conversations require a lot of focus, energy and patience. For people with hearing loss or other hearing impairments, a noisy environment or friends who speak too quickly can make communication extra challenging.

How to talk to someone with hearing loss?

Some environments are much easier for communication for people who are hearing impaired. Here are some things you can do to ensure the environment is perfect for communication:

  • Make sure the room has enough lighting. People with hearing loss often rely upon lip reading, facial expressions, speech reading, body language and gestures to supplement their remaining hearing and improve communication.
  • Pick a place that has minimum background noise. Though our ears and brain are able to filter out background noise in most situations, people with hearing loss often have a difficult time hearing over excessive noise. Keep in mind that small rooms with no carpeting or curtains tend to have poor acoustics and can distort voices.
  • Make it easy to see everyone’s faces. If you will be in a group setting, choose a location—or if you’re at a restaurant, a round table —where the person with hearing loss will have visual access to everyone’s faces to facilitate better communication.

What should you consider when talking to a person who is hearing impaired?

  • Speak at a normal level. Sometimes it’s tempting to speak too loudly to someone with hearing loss, but this can distort the words.
  • Provide the topic of conversation or key word to someone having difficulty understanding, especially if there has been a topic change.
  • Spell a tricky word. For people with hearing loss, many consonants sound the same, which can trigger misunderstanding. Write it out on paper if necessary.
  • Use gestures if they might help.
  • Speak more slowly, but still clearly.
  • Rephrase what you have said.
  • Shorten your sentences and use less complex phrasings.
  • Change environments if the location is giving you problems.
  • Make sure you don’t cover your mouth. Don’t talk through a yawn or while chewing gum.
  • Sit or stand close to the person with hearing loss, but not so close that he or she can’t easily switch focus between maintaining eye contact and speech reading.
  • If the person with hearing loss hears better in one ear, take note of that and try to speak more toward their right or left side.
  • When giving specific information, like an address or time for a meeting, write the important information down or ask the person to repeat the specifics to you so you can make sure they got them right.
  • Pay attention to the listener’s cues. People with hearing loss sometimes feel embarrassed or get tired of asking others to repeat themselves or clarify. If the person looks a bit puzzled, find a tactful way to ask if he or she understood you.
  • In group settings, make sure to avoid speaking over each other.

If you or your loved one needs a hearing test, find a trusted hearing specialist near you. Many of these problems can be improved if the person wears properly adjusted hearing aids.

We take care of your hearing every day!
Labākas Dzirdes Centra team