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Communicating if you have hearing loss

​​​​​​​​​​​Tell people th​at you have trouble hearing

  • Remember that no one hears everything. Even though your hearing aids will help you, you may still have trouble understanding what someone is saying.
  • Ask others to let you know if your speech becomes hard to understand. You can then try to speak more clearly.
  • Give others a chance to speak. It‘s easy to talk a lot so that you don’t have to listen.

Know the topic of conversation

  • Ask people to tell you what they are talking about and if they change topics.
  • Try to get the message or main idea instead of trying to understand every word.

Choose a good place to listen

  • Sit across from people instead of beside them.
  • Sit with the ear you hear best towards the person talking.
  • Move close to the person talking. The best distance for communication is about 3 to 4 feet.
  • Find a bright place to talk. Communication is easier if the lighting is good.
  • Ask family and friends to speak to you only if they are in the same room and have your attention.

Make sounds more clear

  • Ask people to look at you and speak clearly at an average speed.
  • Ask your audiologist about amplifiers for your television or telephone, or for other times when it may be hard to hear (e.g., traveling in a car).
  • Talk to an audiologist if you don’t have hearing aids but would like to try them.
  • Have your hearing aids checked regularly. Keep them clean and check the batteries often.
  • Use soft surfaces to make communication easier in your home. Sound bounces and echoes off hard surfaces making speech harder to hear, so use carpet instead of linoleum, upholstered furniture instead of wood, and put wallpaper or pictures on the walls and curtains on the windows.
  • Turn off or move away from things that make noise (e.g., TVs, fans, open windows) before talking to someone.

Look at people to understand what they are saying

  • Learn the position of speech sounds on the lips, teeth, and tongue. It may help you better understand speech.
  • Pay attention to the speaker’s expressions, gestures, and posture. They may help you understand what the person is saying.
  • Ask people to take things away from near their face before talking to you (e.g., chewing gum, pens, books, hands, cigarettes). It may also be hard to see speech sounds being formed if the speaker has a beard or moustache.

Make sure you understood the message

  • Ask people to change their words or repeat anything that you missed. Even though your hearing aids will help you, you may still have trouble understanding what someone is saying.
  • Make sure you get the information right by repeating it back to the person talking (e.g., a telephone number, address, time, place, person’s name).​

​Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre

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