Conversing with Hearing Impaired Individuals
All of us usually know at least one person in our lives who has a hearing disability. Most people tend to avoid talking to people with hearing loss, out of fear of having to constantly repeat themselves, and not being able understood. In reality, all it takes is a bit of time and energy to come up with creative and effective ways to communicate with those who have hearing loss.
We often have that one family member who is hard of hearing, and people tend to skirt around them, avoiding conversations. They often seem confused, irritable, and lonely during social gatherings; this is because hearing loss can truly be an isolating experience. All it takes is for someone to show them a bit of kindness and patience. Talking to those with hearing loss really is quite simple once you figure out the basics.
If you know someone with hearing loss that is often awkward at parties and sits in a corner, take a moment to go and sit by their side. Listen to what they have to say and let them do the talking. You may very well be the only one who does!
Take a moment to truly listen to what the person with hearing loss has to say. If they have trouble understanding you, speak slowly and enunciate your words clearly, but do so in a polite manner. Shouting or raising your volume often only confuses them further and does not make it any easier for them to hear you.
When you are talking to someone with a hearing problem, keep in mind that their other senses are working just fine. You can use visual cues such as hand gestures, facial expressions, and other cues to help emphasize what you are saying. This way they do not have to solely rely on your words.
If the person with hearing loss is someone you love and care about, take a moment to bring their hearing loss to their attention. Do so in a caring, polite, and tactful manner so as not to hurt their feelings. Remind them that you truly care about their well-being and wish to see them make the most of their life. Help increase their awareness of the symptoms of hearing loss and be there for them as a source of support and comfort. Be ready to accompany them for their first hearing exam and for subsequent appointments. Hearing loss is a difficult reality to come to terms with, but with the correct moral support, even the most difficult of truths becomes much easier to handle.