Communicate with a hearing aid wearer
In communicating with a hearing aid wearer, it’s important to remember some straightforward advice to enable everybody to be part of the conversation. Support from family and friends is essential in building confidence so that interacting with the world around you is relaxing and stree-free as possible.
We’ve a few tips to share with you to help achieve the best communication experiences:
Always avoid mumbled speech to allow a clear listening experience. Clear pronunciation of words at a normal pace will allow people using hearing aids to process much more of what's being said. There is no need to speak unnaturally loudly or slowly when you interact with someone who wears hearing aids.
Face to face communication allows the hearing aid wearer to take advantage of facial expressions, lip reading cues and other visual body language information that help them understand the conversation. Below are a few key tips to bear in mind:
- Keep your hands away from your face
- Face the hearing aid wearer directly rather than off to one side
- Avoid talking with food in your mouth
- Bears and moustaches may hide lip reading cues
- Ensure there is good lighting
- Avoid having a conversation where the hearing aid wearer cannot see you
- Good lip reading distance is no more than 5 feet away
Getting their attention
There are easy ways to get the attention of a friend or family member who wears hearing aids before starting a conversation such as saying their name, tapping them on the shoulder, making eye contact or especially in noisy environments, waving your hand. This will make it clear to them that you would like their participation in a conversation. This gives them maximum opportunity to engage in the whole conversation.
Understanding different listening environments
By being aware of different types of listening environments will help you achieve more effective communication with your friends and family who wear hearing aids. Quieter environments, small groups and one-to-one situations are easier for understanding conversations then noisy restaurants, car journeys and sporting events.
In noisier environments such as a restaurant, communication can be made easier by:
- Letting them sit with their back to a wall
- Ensuring tables are away from the kitchen and busy bar areas
- Avoiding locations with loud music/live bands
Be patient with your family and friends who use hearing aids as there still will be times when you might need to repeat parts of a conversation to ensure they understand everything.