Communication Strategies

Communication is so important for everyday living. Wearing hearing instruments are the first step in successfully restoring a healthy communication relationship with your family and friends. Good quality hearing devices are a good solution to improve speech understanding, but even with the technology today, hearing instruments have limitations and can not restore hearing back to normal.

Communication Tips for the Hearing Aid Wearer

Wearing hearing instruments are the first step in successfully restoring a healthy communication relationship with your family and friends. Good quality hearing devices are a good solution to improve speech understanding, but even with the technology today, hearing instruments have limitations and can not restore hearing back to normal. Here are a few simple tips to help receive optimal benefit from your hearing device. These tips can also be used by those who do not wear hearing devices, but have difficulty hearing in certain situations.

Loop, Infrared and FM Systems.

These types of systems are excellent for overcoming distance and background noise by providing a clear signal to the wearer’s hearing instruments. Some establishments like movie theatres, banks, churches and schools are starting to use these systems to help with the hearing impaired.  

Driving your car

You can reduce the amount of road and traffic noise by winding up the windows in the car. Alternatively if you wear two hearing aids, you can turn down the volume or take off the aid closest to the road (right) and only wear the left. This still allows you to communicate with other passengers. Reduce the volume of the stereo to minimize background noise.

At home

Always use your hearing instruments. The more you wear them, the better the brain will be at differentiating speech from noise. Tell friends and family that you have a hearing problem and educate them on how to communicate effectively with you.

Attending lectures, meetings, church etc...

If your hearing is the same in both ears, sit close to the signal source (teacher, speaker etc) and sit in the centre. If your hearing is better in one ear, sit with the better ear closest to the sound source. Enquire if a loop or FM system is available and use that to improve speech understanding. If possible, obtain an agenda or lecture notes beforehand to help with following the meeting or lecture.

Move closer to the speaker

Reduce the distance between yourself and the speaker, especially in areas with background noise. The further away you are from the speaker, the harder it is to see visual cues and hear speech.

Repeat / Rephrase

If you have difficulty understanding what was said, repeat back what you heard, so the speaker can rephrase what you missed. Alternatively, write down important information.

At work

Tell others about your hearing loss, as this can make them more likely to assist you in understanding conversation. Educate co-workers on talking clearly and facing you.

Stand In well-lit areas

Good lighting helps the face of the speaker to be seen clearly, making visual cues easier to be seen.

Specific questioning

Ask specific questions that require a yes or no answer. For example, “Does this bus go to the city?”

Background noise

Background noise is one of the hardest listening situations to understand speech in. If possible, reduce the level of the background noise by simply closing an open window or door, turning off the television or radio or moving to a quieter area. Visual cues such as lip reading and other facial gestures can be helpful to assist speech understanding. Bluetooth remote mics or FM System will also be helpful.

Using the telephone

Using the telephone when wearing hearing devices can be tricky to get used to. If you have a behind-the-ear instrument, hold the phone up higher than normal, as the microphone sits above your ear. If you have an in-the-ear instrument, hold the phone normally. If you are getting any whistling, move the handset slightly away from the instrument. For corded, land line phones, use the telecoil program on your hearing instrument and position the handset to get the best signal. In addition, there are many accessories available to help you use the phone more effectively such as a specialized volume control phone or for profoundly deaf people, a Telephone Typewriter (TTY). Contact All Ears in Hearing for further information and free demonstration.

Watching television

There is a huge range of TV listening devices out there for those who have difficulty hearing the television. Some devices even work in conjunction with your hearing aid, sending the signal directly to the hearing instrument.  Infrared headphones are an excellent alternative to hearing aids for listening to the TV. The headphones will not interfere with the TV volume, so the whole family can watch TV together. Ask the staff at ALL EARS IN HEARING for further information and a free in clinic demonstration.

Dining out

When making reservations at a restaurant, request a table in a quiet location with good lighting. If possible, seat yourself with your back facing the majority of the noise. Hearing instruments with directional microphone technology work on the assumption that what you are facing is what you want to hear.

Visual cues

Visual cues such as lip reading and facial expressions can provide assistance with conversation. You can only get better with practice, so practice reading visual cues by watching TV.

Be assertive

Don’t be afraid to ask people to speak more slowly or to repeat what they said. If you tell them that you have a hearing loss, the speaker can be more understanding and aware of how they are speaking.

Accessories

There are many accessories available to help speech understanding in a variety of listening situations such as restaurants, meetings, lectures, telephone and TV. 

Communication Tips for family and friends

Communication is so important for everyday living. When a friend or family member has a hearing loss, communication can be challenging. Good quality hearing devices are a good solution to improve speech understanding, but even with the technology today, hearing instruments have limitations and can not restore hearing back to normal. These tips can be used by family and friends of hearing impaired people to help minimize communication breakdown.

Be patient and understanding

The more the hearing instrument is worn, the better the brain will get at differentiating between speech and noise. So, encourage those with hearing instruments to wear them as often as possible. When you have a hearing impairment, listening requires effort, so conversation can be tiring. If you see signs of fatigue when conversing with a hearing aid wearer, don’t be forceful or prolong the conversation. Understand that hearing instruments have limitations and can not restore hearing back to normal.

Face the Listener

Visual cues like lip reading and facial movements are used by the hearing impaired person to help understand speech. If possible, position yourself so your face and lips are in easy view. Avoid having a conversation from another room or having your back turned to the listener.

Let your face be seen

Stand in well lit areas to allow your face to be seen. This makes it easier for the hearing impaired listener to follow important visual cues such as lip reading and facial expressions.

Attract the listeners attention

Gain the listener’s attention and let them know that you wish to communicate with them.

Rephrase

If you find yourself having trouble being heard or understood, say it in a different way or write it down. Remember to be patient.

Speak clearly, slowly and speak naturally

Don’t speak too slowly or use exaggerated facial expressions as it will make lip reading difficult to follow. Just speak naturally and pronounce your words clearly. Hearing instruments are programmed to amplify speech to an audible level, so there is no need to shout. Shouting can distort speech and cause discomfort to the instrument wearer.

Do not cover your mouth

When speaking with a hearing impaired person, try not to communicate with anything obstructing your mouth. Items such as news papers, eating, drinking and smoking will cover your mouth making visual cues difficult to follow.

Reduce distance

Reduce the distance between yourself and the listener. Reducing the distance will help with important visual cues and minimize interference from background noise.

Minimize background noise

Turn off radios or TVs or move to a quieter area for conversation.

Take surroundings into account

Avoid having conversations from different rooms and areas with lots of background noise. Find a quiet place with good lighting to talk.