Monday, December 8, 2008

For Hearing People : Talking to the Hard of Hearing

Tips on how to talk to a HARD OF HEARING PERSON**

--Whenever possible, face the hard-of-hearing person directly, and on the same level.
--Your speech will be more easily understood when you are not eating, chewing, smoking, etc.
--Reduce background noises when carrying on conversations -- turn off the radio or TV.
--Keep your hands away from your face while talking.
--If it's difficult for a person to understand, find another way of saying the same thing, rather than repeating the original words. Move to a quieter location.
--Recognize that hard of hearing people hear and understand less well when they are tired or ill.
--Do not talk to a hard-of-hearing person from another room. Be sure to get the attention of the person to whom you will speak before you start talking.
--Speak in a normal fashion without shouting or showing impatience. See that the light is not shining into the eyes of the hard-of-hearing person.
--A woman's voice is often harder to hear than a man's, because of its pitch. A woman might try to lower the pitch of her voice when talking to the hard-of-hearing to see if that helps.
--Speak slowly and clearly.
--If the hard-of-hearing person wears a hearing aid, make sure that it has batteries installed, the batteries work, the hearing aid is turned "on" and that the hearing aid is clean and free from ear wax.
--If you know (or if it becomes evident) from which side the person hears best, talk to that side.
--It is better to speak directly face-to-face in situations where relatively diffuse lighting is adequate and lights the speaker's face. This allows the hard-of-hearing listener to observe the speaker's facial expressions, as well as lip movements.
--Persons with hearing impairment can also benefit from seating themselves at a table where they can best see all parties (e.g. from the *end* of a rectangular table).
--Announce beforehand when you are going to change the subject of conversation. Doing so might avoid an unfortunate "faux pas" by a hard-of-hearing listener.
--Sometimes hard-of-hearing persons have "good" or "better" sides -- right or left -- ask them if they do. If they indicate a preference, direct your remarks to the "good" side or face-to-face, as they wish.
--Check to see that a light is not shining in the eyes of the hard-of-hearing person. Change position so that you are not standing in front of a light source such as a window, which puts your face in shadow or silhouette and makes it hard for the hard-of-hearing person to *speech read*.
--Avoid abrupt changes of subject or interjecting small talk into your conversation, as hard-of-hearing listeners often use context to understand what you are saying.
--If the hard-of-hearing person wears an aid, trying raising the pitch of your voice just slightly. If the hard-of-hearing listener is not wearing an aid, try lowering the pitch of your voice.
--If all else fails, rephrase your remarks or have someone whose voice is familiar to the hard-of-hearing person repeat your words.
--Don't talk too fast.
--Pronounce words clearly. If the hearing-impaired person has difficulty with letters and numbers say: "M as in Mary", "2 as in twins", "B as in Boy", and say each number separately, like "five six" instead of "fifty-six," etc. The reason for doing so is that m, n and 2, 3, 56, 66 and b, c, d, e, t and v sound alike.
--If you are around a corner, or turn away, you become much harder to understand.
--Keep a note pad handy, and write your words out and show them to the hard-of-hearing person if you have to - - just don't walk away leaving the hearing-impaired listener puzzling over what you said and thinking you don't care.

Many hard-of-hearing are embarrassed that they can't hear. Many avoid crowds or situations that make hearing difficult. Certain environments, such as radios, TVs, and ventilation systems are also a problem for the hearing impaired – especially for those that wear hearing aids.

1 comment:

Frieda said...

Kudus! Ditto! Hear, Hear! Thank you, Dani...I hear better in higher pitches, prefer women's voices to men, have made MANY subject faux pas, and do definitely appreciate people clarifying the letters in spelling (M as in Mary)!