Communication Tactics

We all know that being able to hear conversation can be difficult at times, even with normal hearing.   However for those who have a hearing impairment it becomes more than just listening to the sounds or conversation around us.   Even when hearing aids are fitted optimally and sound is once again heard well, it still requires a lot of concentration, lip-reading and watching facial expression and body language to understand what is being heard or said.   This information brochure has been produced with both the person coping with hearing difficulties and their family and friends in mind to try and give some understanding to both parties the best way to cope in certain situations.

…for the Hearing Impaired

  • Be alert.  Watch other people’s mouths and also their facial expression and body-language.
  • Make sure the room is well lit, so you can see the speakers face clearly.
  • If you lip-read, make sure your back is positioned towards the light.  This way the light will shine onto the other person’s face making it easier to see.
  • Someone who doesn’t have a hearing loss may not know the best way to speak to you.  Explain to them  for example; Don’t speak too loud; speak slowly and clearly; make sure your mouth and facial expression can be sen etc.
  • Give the right example and speak clearly and calmly.
  • Be patient and ask for repetition in a friendly manner, when you have not understood something.
  • Don’t pretend you have understood what was said if this is not the case.  This will create mis-understandings.  Make sure you always have paper and a pen/pencil at hand if necessary.
  • Don’t be ashamed if you have reacted “wrongly”.  Just explain what you thought you understood.
  • If you hear less, check your hearing aid and make sure it’s in the right position and the battery is still working.
  • If you want another person to bear your handicap in mind, you have to tell them you are hearing impaired.  Don’t be ashamed about this.
  • If you can’t participate in, for example birthday parties or meetings, explain beforehand why this is impossible and or stressful to you.  Try to meet other people at another time, when it is quieter and there are less people around.
  • At a party or gathering, try to sit next to someone who speaks clearly and who is willing to keep you informed about the conversation.  If you can’t follow the conversation, sit next to someone you like to talk to.
  • If you can’t join in the conversation, don’t feel left out immediately.
  • If you want to leave (eg. Because of tiredness from concentrating on what is being said) explain this to others.  Don’t just leave as this may cause incomprehension and annoyance.
  • If you have any questions about your hearing problem or about the use of your hearing aid/s, write them down and ask them at your next appointment with your audiometrist.


…for Family and Friends

  • Get the attention of the hearing impaired person before talking, by saying their name or touching them.  This way they know they have to pay attention to you.
  • Never approach someone with a hearing impairment from behind.  They may not hear you coming and get a fright.
  • Speak clearly, but don’t exaggerate your lip movements.  Never speak without using your voice.
  • Speak slowly and calmly.  Don’t put your hand before your mouth.  Don’t talk with a cigarette in your mouth and don’t eat/chew whilst talking.  Make sure you are nearby before you speak.
  • Never shout at someone with a hearing impairment.  They may not be able to tolerate loud sounds, also the pattern of your mouth for lip-reading will become distorted.
  • Someone with a hearing impairment tries to understand you through hearing, reading lips and through reading your facial and body expression.  Always look at the person when you speak to them.  Don’t feel embarrassed when they look intently at you.
  • Move into the light and make sure the light shines onto your mouth and face.  Don’t stand with your back to a window or bright light.
  • When having a conversation with a group of people, make sure everyone can join in and have a laugh as well.  Being alone within a group is lonelier than being alone at home.
  • When possible, mention the subject of the conversation, especially when more people are joining the conversation, so they know what you are talking about.
  • Be patient when you have to repeat a sentence.  Don’t say the same word more than twice.  You’re better off describing what you mean.  This will improve the possibility of the person understanding you.  Rephrasing can also make it easier for them to understand.
  • Don’t laugh when you are given the wrong answer.  Let them know they have mis-understood what has been said.
  • Someone with a hearing impairment may react slower, because they first listen to make sure what you say is what they are hearing, then they comprehend and understand what has been said.
  • When giving names and addresses, write them down.  Unfamiliar names and addresses must be spelled out, otherwise they may be mis-understood.
  • When the radio or TV are on it can be nearly impossible for them to understand you.  Preferably turn the radio or TV off, or to mute, before starting a conversation.
  • Listening with a hearing aid and/or lip-reading can be very tiring.  It can be hard to follow conversation when tired, especially when there is background noise.
  • Understand, a hearing aid is just an aid for a hearing impaired person, not a cure.  Wearing a hearing aid does not give that person “normal” hearing.

For more information or to make an appointment please feel free to contact our highly trained staff.