It can be difficult for people with hearing loss to understand conversations, especially when other noises are present. In fact, even people with normal hearing rely on visual cues or “speechreading” to help them hear better – whether they think they do or not! Here are some things that, regardless of your hearing status, can help maximize your speech understanding ability:
- Watch the speaker’s face for visual cues; his/her total expression – the words forming on his/her lips will give additional help understanding what is being said – but take note of the entire expression, as it will give you a clue to what the speaker is saying.
- Relax while you are speechreading!
- Do not try to follow every single word people say; get the main idea.
- Check the seating arrangement in the room, and then seat yourself in a seat across from the speaker so that you can see his/her face. Be sure that you are both in good lighting.
- Find out the topic of the conversation right away – even if you have to ask someone – the context will help you figure out the information that may be missed.
- Move closer to the person speaking or have them move closer to you. It is much easier to understand conversation at a close range than to have someone raise their voice across the room.
- Keep up with your friends’ interests and current events to better enable you to participate in conversations.
- Your hearing loss is NOT a secret, even if you hide it well! Your best bet is to let those around you know what they can do to make communication easier for you, and encourage them to help. Make sure they realize not to shout or overly exaggerate their words – speaking louder does not always help. Speaking slightly SLOWER usually does help.
- Don’t bluff! I can’t emphasize this enough. Don’t risk responding inappropriately; ask people to repeat if you do not understand what is being said. Nobody understands perfectly!
- If you understood part of the message, repeat the part you DID hear and inquire about the part you did not. Ex: “Do I want to go WHERE?”
Get out of the habit of just saying “what?” – I even do this at home with my husband and family. This is a good thing to do no matter the status of your hearing!
- Don’t be afraid that people will think you are staring at them while you are speechreading.
- Don’t get into the habit of mouthing the words or sounds that you are seeing.
- Watch your own speech. Because you have a hearing loss, you do not always hear correctly what you are saying. This can lead to dropping the ends of your words or slurring your words. Don’t let your own speech get sloppy.
- Look for ideas rather than isolated words. Try to take advantage of changes in rhythm, stress, timing, and gestures that indicate the words being emphasized and by doing so, keeping alert to key words. Nouns and verbs are the most important aspects of speech.
- Make sure your hearing aids have fresh batteries and are in good working order. Your hearing aids should be checked at least once a year. If you do not wear hearing aids, visit your local audiologist to make sure your EARS are in good working order. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!
- Develop patience with yourself and others. Be alert, confident, sociable and kind to yourself. Don’t let your hearing loss run your life!
- Maintain your sense of humor!