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Communicating with the hearing impaired

Communicating with a hearing-impaired person

Here are a few suggestions for communicating effectively with someone who's hard of hearing:

  • Before starting to talk, reduce the background noise if possible. For example, turn off the TV or stereo.
  • If you can't reduce background noise, move to a quieter area to talk.
  • Make sure you have the person's attention before speaking. Simply saying the person's name can accomplish this.
  • Face the person as you're talking, with no more than two to three feet between the two of you.
  • Speak at a normal conversational level if the person is wearing a hearing aid. If the person is not, talk a little louder than normal, but don't shout.
  • If listening conditions are difficult, speak at louder levels.
  • Speak naturally but a little slower, with a few more pauses than usual.
  • Watch your listener's face for signs that hearing the conversation is a problem. Tactfully ask if you're being heard and understood.
  • Rephrase your questions or statements if the listener appears unsure about what has been said.
  • Alert your listener to changes in topics of conversation.