Hearing loss is an invisible impairment that can cause noticeable difficulties for individuals living with hearing loss. It’s helpful if the family members of people with hearing impairments educate themselves on what to keep in mind when communicating with people who have hearing loss. There are many factors that can cause hearing loss. To better understand what hearing loss is, it’s important to understand what normal hearing is and how we hear.
A person hears normally when their hearing level falls between the range of -10dB to 25dB for adults and -10 to 15dB for children. A person with normal hearing should not experience problems with hearing, especially in background noise, e.g. restaurants, shopping malls, parks, beaches, etc.
What can you do to help?
Understanding the situation can be helpful to both hearing-impaired individuals, and their loved ones. Here are some ways that can help you to communicate better with a hearing-impaired individual:
- Speak clearly: You should say each word correctly. Use key phrases such as “Now I want to talk about”. This helps the person to know that the topic of conversation has changed.
- Use repetition: When there is a communication breakdown, repeating the sentence or word helps the person to understand.
- Confirmation: Ask the person questions on the topic you discussed to confirm that they heard you correctly and that you’re both on the same page.
- Get the attention of the person before starting a conversation.
- Face the person when speaking.
- Use gestures when speaking like hand gestures to demonstrate something or point to something that you are talking about.
- Use facial expressions. If you are talking about something exciting, have a happy expression on your face.
- Ask the person what you can do to help them understand you better. Remember that every person with a hearing impairment’s experiences and challenges are unique to them. By asking them what works for them will help you to use specific methods that will help.
- Ensure that the room is well lit. Hearing-impaired individuals often rely on non-verbal signs such as body language, facial expressions, and lipreading to help them understand better and improve communication.
- Try to communicate where there is less background noise. If you can communicate where there is no noise that would be ideal however, that is not always possible. You can also ask others to speak softer in the room when you communicate with a person with hearing loss.
Being diagnosed with hearing loss can be an overwhelming experience for your loved one. They can go through a wide range of experiences and a rollercoaster of emotions. Try to be understanding about the hearing loss and the impact it has on your loved one, it can help make their journey less overwhelming and more manageable.