When having a conversation with a friend or loved one experiencing hearing loss, following a few tips and strategies can help improve the experience for both parties.
- Make sure you have the listener’s attention before starting a conversation. Address them by name so they are aware you are including them
- Maintain eye contact with your listener. Face the person directly and remain within three to six feet for maximum audibility
- Speak slowly and concisely. Pause between sentences to make sure your listener has understood everything you have said. Do not shout—this only makes your speech sound distorted and can cause confusion
- Avoid using complex words and phrases. If your listener does not understand what you have said, try rephrasing with an alternate word or phrase. Sentences that are short and simple work best
- Do not cover your mouth when speaking. Your listener may rely on speechreading (the current term for lip reading) or visual cues and gestures to aid in understanding. Avoid eating or drinking
- Write down anything particularly important to ensure your listener has all the necessary information
- Pay attention to your listener. Watch for signs of confusion, and repeat/rephrase/clarify when needed. Give him or her a chance to respond without interruption