Common Mistakes When Communicating with the Hard of Hearing

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When someone suffers hearing loss, it is not only difficult for him or her to adapt, but it can be a challenge for everyone around the person. You need to find different ways to communicate with that individual. It can be a bit of a learning curve, and the last thing you want to do is offend the person or try to communicate with them in a manner that is completely ineffective. With that in mind, read on to discover some of the most common mistakes that people make when communicating with the hard of hearing, so you can avoid making them.

Assuming loudness is the most important factor when communicating – This is undoubtedly one of the biggest mistakes people make when communicating with people that are hard of hearing. Do you assume that you should simply shout at the person and they will be able to hear you better? This is an understandable assumption. After all, it seems logical. However, speaking forcefully or yelling is not as vital as speaking clearly and at a slow pace. When someone suffers from hearing loss symptoms, it does not mean that they hear everything at a lower volume so to speak. In fact, if you talk louder, you may end up throwing the person off. Instead, focus on how you pronounce your words in terms of speed and clarity, as the person is, most likely, going to be doing a lot of lip reading.

Assuming that you are annoying the other person – Communicating with someone that has hearing loss can be frustrating for both parties. However, you should not simply assume that you are annoying the other person. A lot of people assume they are being irritating by repeating themselves, and so they give up. However, hard of hearing individuals simply need a little bit more clarification at times, so do not let this discourage you from saying things several times. If you give up, it will be more upsetting for the other person than if you have to say something a number of times.

Assuming age is always a factor – A lot of people assume that hearing loss is something that only happens to older people. Nevertheless, age is not the only contributing factor. There are many different reasons why someone may suffer hearing loss. It could be because of the environment they work in, for example, such as a nightclub or a farm.

Assuming that hearing aids will fix everything – There is no denying that hearing aids can be incredibly useful for people that have hearing loss. It is no exaggeration to say that in a lot of cases they can be life changing. But this does not mean that they are a miracle cure. They can be incredibly effective for some people, and not so effective for others. Each person has a different maximum hearing ability. Plus, people suffer from different types of hearing loss. Also, you need to consider the fact that while these devices assist in terms of enhancing the decibel level of sound, they cannot do anything in terms of improving the clarity of the conversation. This further highlights why it is so important to think about how you are speaking, rather than how loud.

Assuming that all hard of hearing people speak sign language – Last but not least, we all have a tendency to assume that if someone cannot hear properly they will no sign language. However, this is not always the case. People choose to go down different paths when coping with hearing loss. Some people will rely on lip reading, others will use hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALDs), and there are, of course, those that learn sign language. This will largely depend on the level of hearing loss and the person’s own preference, so you should never assume they will know sign language.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding some of the most common errors that people make when they communicate with the hard of hearing. If you can avoid the errors that have been mentioned above, you can give yourself the greatest chance of communicating the person successfully while also ensuring you do not offend them or make things more complicated for them in the process.


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