Even with hearing aids, people with hearing impairments cannot perceive sound the way people with normal hearing can. This emphasizes the importance of knowing what to do and what not to do when conversing with hearing-impaired people, with or without their hearing aids.
With that said, here are a few effective tips in making your conversations with hearing-impaired persons more productive and enjoyable.
Face the Person
Facing away from whoever you’re talking to isn’t a good idea when you’re talking to a hearing-impaired person. While it works with people with normal hearing, perhaps in movies and television sitcoms, it doesn’t work in people with hearing loss for many reasons.
You have to face him so that he can actually see your lips for lip-reading purposes, as well as see your facial expressions, hand gestures and body language. This way, you’re giving him ample opportunity to actively engage in the conversation and make the appropriate responses.
Don’t just face the person either. You have to be on the same level as he is as well as ensure that you’re in a good light for him to see you well.
Get His Attention
Don’t speak without getting the other person’s attention, such as by tapping him on the arm or shoulder. You have to give him sufficient time to shift his attention to you and then to engage in the conversation. Other ways to get his attention are saying his name and using a hand gesture.
Maintain Eye Contact
Of course, eye contact is a must in effective face-to-face communication. But it’s even more so when talking with a hearing-impaired person. You can both determine the feelings of the other person by looking into each other eyes and taking into account each other’s words, facial expressions and body language.
There’s no need to shout in front of a hearing-impaired person to be heard! Besides, that’s just rude and you won’t have a good conversation when you’re being rude from the start.
Instead, you should speak in your normal speaking volume. But don’t slur or hurry with your words. You should speak clearly, distinctly and slowly without exaggerated mouth movements, which will allow the other person to read your lips.
You may, of course, speak at a slightly higher volume of voice but don’t shout. Otherwise, the other person won’t be able to read your lips well, not to mention that it’s being rude.
Aside from avoiding exaggerated mouth movements, you should also avoid putting your hands in your face while you’re talking. Again, it has something to do with lip reading. You may also make it a point to position yourself in the other person’s good ear (i.e., the one with better hearing capabilities).
In the end, you and your hearing-impaired friend will enjoy good conversations if you make the effort first. Keep in mind that he may be hesitant about initiating the conversation so you may want to start it.
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