May is Better Hearing & Speech Month. Created by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in 1927, it has been teaching people about hearing loss and speech disorders for more than 90 years. The theme of this year’s event is “Communication for All.” In honor of this theme, your Santa Barbara audiologist would like to share some tips and tricks they have learned in order to help you communicate better with someone who has hearing loss.
Have Their Attention
This is probably the most important tip on the whole list. It is rather simple too – before you start talking, make sure they know you are talking to them. This can be done by simply stating their name or catching their eye.
Maintain Eye Contact.
And while you are at it, after catching their eye to start the conversation you should hold it the entire time. It probably goes without saying but you should face a person when talking to them. Do not attempt to hold a conversation from another room since visual cues are an important component of successful communication.
Speak slowly and concisely.
Don’t yell, shout, exclaim loudly or scream. While you may be tempted, as it is natural to want to speak louder when someone can’t hear, it can actually distort your speech and makes your words more difficult to understand. Pausing between sentences to ensure what you are saying is understood is a good idea as well.
Don’t Cover Your Mouth
Don’t cover your face with your hands or other objects while speaking. Those with hearing loss typically rely on visual cues to help follow a conversation; some find lip reading helpful.
Don’t Eat or Drink
This is another tip that may be obvious – don’t eat or drink while talking. Not only is it rude to talk with your mouth full but it can make your words much harder to understand.
Find A Quiet Area
Having a conversation in a crowded, noise-filled room is going to be harder than in a quiet space free of background noise. Background noises can be distracting and cause the hearing impaired individual to miss out on what you are saying.
Repetition is Key
Repeat yourself if necessary. You should try using a different word or rephrasing your sentence if it is too confusing.
When in Doubt, Write it Out
If what you are saying is important, the best way to ensure your conversation partner understands is to write it down. That way nothing can be lost in translation.
You can tell a lot from watching someone’s facial expression. If they look confused, there is a good chance they are confused. Paying attention to the listener while you are talking can let you know if you need to rephrase or repeat anything.
Communication is a Give and Take
Remember, communication is a two-way street. Give the other person a chance to speak, and do not interrupt.
To learn more about Better Hearing & Speech Month or communication tips, contact your Santa Barbara audiologist today.