Saturday, November 19, 2011

Five tips for...

....communicating with those who suffer from hearing loss.

In light of my last post on changing the world, I talked about hearing loss. I want to share five tips with you on communicating with those who can't hear as well as most:

1) When you speak, let them see your mouth. People compensate for hearing loss by using their eyes to "hear" you. They read your lips.

2) When they say "Pardon", don't shout. Usually they can't hear you because you are not speaking clearly. Pronounce your consonants clearly. Don't say "I wentodebeachthismrnin". Say "I wenT to the beaCH thiS morNiNG." Don't say, "Sure-all lave some coffee". Say, "Sure, I'LL haVe some coffee." Pay special attention to the last letters of each word as those are the consonants we tend to drop the most.

3) If you have enunciated your consonants carefully, and they still don't understand you, you may have spoken to fast. Slow down and enunciate.

4) Our ears are more amazing than we realize. We are able to tune out background noises in favour of the conversations we're having. Hearing aids can't do that. If you are drumming your fingers on the table as you speak, the person will hear your fingers drumming just as loudly as you are speaking because hearing aids amplify ALL sounds. Asides to others as a person with hearing loss attempts to carry on a conversation in the same room will cause the one with hearing loss to not understand any conversation--again because hearing aids amplify all sounds.

5) If someone suffering from hearing loss does not laugh after you've told a joke, it usually doesn't mean they have no sense of humour. They just missed the punch line because they didn't hear all you said in the first place.

Give yourself a special challenge of seeing just how much less often someone who can't hear well needs to say "Pardon" to you! Knowing you are understood will give you confidence in forging relationships with most older folks and will thus give you a whole knew world of friendships to gain, wisdom to accumulate, and jokes to share!

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