5 Tips to Communicate With Hearing Loss

5 Tips to Communicate With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss produces symptoms that often take a toll on communication. Symptoms including tinnitus – a ringing or buzzing noise in the ears, sounds being muffled or distorted, and difficulty detecting and processing sound in environments with background noise make it tough to engage in conversations. Fortunately hearing aids, the most common treatment for hearing loss, provide ample support and are essential items for people with hearing loss. In addition to wearing your hearing aids, there are several ways you can support your hearing and communication. Practicing the following strategies allow you to navigate conversation and social settings with greater ease. 

1. Maximize use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process speech as well as sound. This provides the ears and brain with ample support which alleviates symptoms and maximizes one’s hearing capacity. It is important to wear your hearing aids during waking hours so that your hearing can be supported as you navigate daily environments. Additionally, there are ways you can maximize the use of your hearing aids by exploring the different features they offer.

Today’s hearing aids are more innovative and savvy than ever before. They offer a range of technologies that increase connectivity, deliver sharp sound quality, and make hearing seamless. This includes features like digital noise reduction, wireless connectivity, voice recognition, tinnitus management, voice assistants, and downloadable apps where settings can be easily managed. These features further support hearing in environments that can be harder to hear in social settings, restaurants, and public spaces. Be sure to talk to your hearing healthcare provider about these options to identify what can work best for your hearing and lifestyle needs. 

2. Take advantage of technology. In addition to hearing aids, there are other types of technologies you can access to support hearing and communication. This includes assistive listening devices and systems (ALDs) which are technologies that support hearing in public and private spaces. Examples of ALDs include hearing loop systems which are in many public spaces. Hearing aids can connect to these hearing loops so that they can stream audio directly, allowing this sound to be adjusted in specific ways to meet your hearing needs. This makes it easier to hear and communicate in a range of spaces like airports, theaters, auditoriums etc. There are also numerous types of hearing aid accessories that can support communication, including microphones which are especially useful during 1 on 1 conversations.

3. Practice and share communication strategies. You likely know of different strategies that work best for your hearing during conversations. It is important to share these tips with others so they can participate in effective communication. A few examples include:

  • Grabbing your attention before starting a conversation. This can happen by calling your name or tapping you on the shoulder, allowing you to be ready.
  • Facing the speaker so that they are fully visible. This gives you access to nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions which help people follow a conversation.
  • Rephrasing rather than repeating if you didn’t hear something.
  • Speaking in a natural voice and taking short pauses between sentences.
  • Sending you detailed information via text or email.

These strategies contribute to effective communication and allow others to participate in creating more accessible conversations!

4. Reduce background noise. Background noise can make it tough for anyone to hear. This can be especially challenging for people with hearing loss who already experience challenges with hearing. It creates additional noise that the brain has to process and filter through, creating more work for the brain which then expends more energy and resources in order to hear. Reduce background noise as much as possible by lowering volume settings on the TV or music in the background, avoiding noisy environments like restaurants during peak hours, driving with the windows rolled up, choosing quieter settings to have conversations in, putting your phone on silent or vibrate etc.

5. Know what to avoid. There are factors that can create more barriers for hearing during conversations and being aware of these factors helps you know what to avoid. This includes: multitasking, texting, running errands, cleaning etc. which can be distracting and contribute to more noise as well as environments with poor lighting which prevents visibility.

Practicing these strategies can significantly support your hearing and communication. Contact us today to learn more about the resources and technologies that are available to prioritize your hearing health!