For the past 90 years, people in El Paso and throughout the country have been joining American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month. This month-long event helps raise awareness of hearing loss and speech problems. “Communication for All” is the theme this year.
To keep in line with the theme, your El Paso audiologist has put together a list of tips to help you communicate with your loved ones with hearing loss. Nearly 48 million people throughout the country are currently suffering from hearing loss, so chances are this list will apply to you.
Pick the Right Spot
Having a conversation in a crowded or loud room can cause the hearing impaired individual to miss a lot of what you are saying. Try to find a quiet place free of background noise.
Get Their Attention
Before you start speaking, make sure you have the other person’s attention. This can be done by simply saying their name. Knowing you are about to start talking helps ensure they can focus on your words.
Maintain Eye Contact
You should face the person you are talking to and maintain eye contact during the whole conversation. Never try to have a conversation from another room. Visual cues are an important part of successful conversations.
Speak Slowly and Concisely
Whatever you do, don’t shout. While this is typically our first instinct when speaking to someone who cannot hear well, it can actually make you harder to understand as your voice can become distorted. You should also pause between sentences to make sure what you are saying is understood.
Don’t Cover Your Mouth
Covering your face with your hands or another object makes it unnecessarily harder for the other person to understand. Those with hearing loss often rely on visual cues to help them follow the conversation; others may rely on lip reading.
Don’t Eat or Drink
This should becommon sense but don’t eat or drink while talking to someone else. Not only is it incredibly rude, but it can make your words harder to understand.
Repeat if Necessary
Repetition is often key. If they are still having trouble understanding you, try using different words or rephrasing your sentence. As Mark Twain said, “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
Write it Down
Sometimes no matter how much you rephrase or repeat, your conversation companion still can’t understand. In that instance, writing your thoughts down can be helpful. Carrying a small notebook and pen around with you is never a bad idea. You never know when you will also need to make an emergency grocery list.
Pay attention to the listener. If they look confused, offer to clarify what you have just said.
Communication is a Give and Take
Remember, communication is a two-way street. Give the other person a chance to speak, and do not interrupt.
To learn more about Better Hearing & Speech Month or to schedule an appointment, contact your El Paso audiologist.