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You have a hearing loss? Should I just speak louder?

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Some people are a little unsure how to talk to someone with a hearing loss. Should I just speak louder or worse still, shout? Perhaps if I enunciate, that will make things easier. Adding in some gestures will help them to understand what I'm saying i'm sure. Well....don't worry, it wasn't that interesting anyway...which really means, I can't be bothered to repeat myself.

All manner of well-intended changes to someones "normal" way of speaking can make listening even more difficult for someone who is Deaf or hard of hearing. There are a few things you can do to make life easier for everyone. But let's find out from some great children who have taken the time to give us some excellent tips!

And here are a few reminders...

  • Make sure you have the person’s attention before you start speaking.

  • Don’t approach them from behind, or tap them on the back to attract their attention – approach from the side or the front.

  • If possible, find a place to talk that has good lighting, away from noise and distractions.

  • Turn your face towards them so they can easily see your lip movements.

  • Speak clearly, not too slowly, and use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures.

  • Make sure what you’re saying is being understood.

  • If they don’t understand what you’ve said, try saying it in a different way. Never say, "It doesn't matter."

  • Keep your voice down: it’s uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout and it looks aggressive.

  • Try not to turn or look away while you are talking, and don’t cover your mouth with your hands.

  • When communicating with someone who's using communication support, such as a sign language interpreter, always remember to talk directly to the person you are communicating with, not the communication professional.

  • Learn fingerspelling or some basic British Sign Language (BSL) to help you communicate with someone who uses sign language.

If you know someone is deaf or has hearing loss, don't be afraid to ask them what you can do to help make communication easier, as everyone will have different communication needs and preferences.

Credit: BBC; Action on Hearing Loss.

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