5 Common Mistakes Made When Communicating with the Hard of Hearing

5 Common Mistakes Made When Communicating with the Hard of Hearing

Let’s say you’re about to have a conversation with a friend, loved one or even a stranger who has experienced hearing loss of some sort. What are you most apt to do? Do you increase your speaking volume? Do you make assumptions about your conversation partner?

Here are just a few of the most common mistakes people make when speaking with hard-of-hearing individuals.

Assuming by signing

One common misconception about deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals is that they “all speak sign language.” In fact, this is not the case. While many people make use of this form of communication, many use other tools to communicate, such as assistive listening devices (ALDs), hearing aids or even lip-reading. Others also may have only mild or moderate hearing loss and can make use of amplifiers or the naked ear if the conversation partner is speaking clearly enough.

Assuming hearing aids fix everything

While hearing aids have been known to work wonders for many people, there are levels of hearing loss and not all devices are cure-alls for every hard-of-hearing person. A cochlear implant, for example, may not necessarily mean that a person has maximum hearing ability. Devices such as this will help to improve the decibel level of sound but don’t always do the same for clearness of conversations, so speak with excellent diction to best communicate. 

Assuming age is always a factor

While may people experience hearing loss as they age, this is not always the contributing factor. Hard-of-hearing people are comprised of only 30 percent in the 65-and-older range, in fact. That means that the odds are your encounter with a person with hearing loss will be with someone younger than 65 in most cases.

Assuming annoyance

You may find that communicating with someone with hearing loss is frustrating for both parties. In fact, you may even be asked to repeat yourself now and again—it might even seem like you’re annoying the other party. The truth is, many hard-of-hearing individuals need a little more clarification to confirm what was said, and it shouldn’t be taken personally or as an attack. The last thing you want to do is discourage your deaf or hard-of-hearing conversation partner from engaging with others.

Assuming loudness is the most important

Your first inclination when speaking to a hard-of-hearing person might be to amplify your voice. You might even yell. Just know that this, while occasionally effective, is rarely the best way to go about communicating. Yelling or speaking forcefully isn’t nearly as important as speaking clearly and maybe even more slowly than your normal pace, in cases in which the person is lip-reading. Yelling or talking more loudly than normal can actually throw off a lip-reader who’s used to seeing conversations with everyday, inside voices.


Sources: Huffington Post