How to Communicate With the Hearing Impaired

When you have family members, friends and colleagues who suffer from hearing loss, it is a challenge to communicate effectively with them. Each person with hearing loss has different communication needs, and there are a variety of assistive devices available to help them hear better. Practicing proper communication techniques can also help you communicate to maximize hearing and listening performance. Follow these general tips to ensure clear two-way communication with someone who has a hearing problem:

Lip Reading

When communicating with a person who suffers from hearing loss, just speak normally. Enunciate properly but don’t over do it. Shouting and whispering can distort your lip movements which could be hard to follow your words. Likewise, exaggerating the movements of your mouth will be harder to understand. Use your eyes and facial expression to help the tone of your conversation.

It can also be helpful to incorporate some physical movements, like pointing to or holding up any items that you’re speaking about. Try mimicking some actions to help describe your words. Just don’t forget to face the person and make sure you have their attention, you should be a little further away than the normal speaking distance to make sure they’ll see all of your gestures.

Use Sign language

If a family member, a friend or your partner requires it, learn and use sign language. Although you will make mistakes, it is crucial to know at least the basic signs so that you can convey what you want to say to someone who suffers from hearing loss. Begin by learning the letters of the alphabet, as well as the numbers. Learning a few key phrases like “thank you”, “please,” and “hello,” can help you communicate using sign language with respect. Sign language, like any other language, requires a bit of dedication to master if you really want to become proficient. Always remember to make your hand visible to the person you are speaking to, and make sure to keep the direction of your body and hands in front of the person.   

Note that some countries have their own national sign languages, like American Sign Language, Pidgin Signed English, and Signing Exact English. These languages do not follow the same civic distribution.

Other Means of Communication

If you really can’t do sign language, you can use an interpreter. You can also utilize other methods of communication to deliver your message, like writing notes, fingerspelling, or texting can help. It is not necessary to write out every word as short phrases or a few words often are sufficient to convey the information. You can also use pictures or drawings. You can communicate with deaf people in several ways. The key is to find out which combination of techniques works best with each deaf person.

If will be challenging at first to communicate with someone who suffers from hearing loss. It will take a lot of patience and understanding. But remember that communication is a two-way process, and you should take responsibility to clearly convey your message as best as possible. If you have any questions on how to communicate with a family member, a friend or a colleague who suffers from hearing loss, visit Beltone DFW or call us at (888) 958-8432 and talk with one of our experts!