How is it that another summer is already coming to a close? With Labor Day weekend upon us, as well as the colder weather, students are now substituting video games and their freedom for text books and exams. Going back to school can be a difficult transition for anyone let alone someone who is hard of hearing and/or suffers from hearing loss.
A new school year equals new classmates, which, in turn creates various social situations. Whether you are in school, teach our youth, or volunteer, everyone should be aware of the proper etiquette surrounding hearing loss.
Lucky for you, we are here to fill you in on the do’s and do not’s! This can be related to anyone whom you know or may meet that is hard of hearing and/or suffers from hearing loss.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Hearing Loss Etiquette
When you are speaking to someone who is not facing you and does not hear you try to get their attention by saying their name or gently tapping them on the shoulder.
Speak normal! You are not on slow-mo and neither are they. It can be demeaning to sound out every syllable and consonant.
Decrease background noise if possible such as turning off the T.V., radio or simply shutting a door.
Make sure to face the person with whom you are talking with so they are able to read both facial and visual cues.
Decrease the distance between you and your conversation partner. Acoustics travel better and are much louder in a closer range. Try to maintain a distance of at least 3 to 6 feet.
Repeat. If someone asks you to repeat a statement for the second time, try rephrasing If the person with whom you are communicating with has a hard time understanding what you originally said, rephrasing your thoughts may be a better approach.
Yell! Yelling can distort the sound and make it harder for them to understand you.
Talking to someone who is not in the same room as you are. This is a very difficult approach to getting someone’s attention let alone someone with hearing loss.
Obstruct your mouth when talking. Refrain from chewing, eating and/or covering your mouth when speaking.
Hearing loss is the least talked about, most unrecognized life issue for many. We all must be mindful that it takes people with hearing loss longer to process both speech and sound. Care enough to pay attention to whom you are speaking to and it will go a long way to better communications.
Amanda Meholif, Audiology Aide
Centers for Hearing Care