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How to talk to someone with a hearing loss


1st Jan 2015 Health Conditions

How to talk to someone with a hearing loss

Hearing loss can have a side effect that a lot of people overlook, relationships can be difficult as friends and family struggle to know how to communicate. But help is here! Find out how to talk to those suffering from hearing loss.

People who have hearing loss may struggle with a surprising side effect: less satisfying relationships, says Katherine Bouton, author of Shouting Won’t Help. Clinically deaf, she taught friends and family how to help.

DON’T: Shout

Speak in a normal voice and articulate as clearly as possible; yelling doesn’t help a person with hearing loss hear you any better. The exception: if your voice is particularly quiet, you should speak louder.

DON’T: Lean in towards the ear

Almost all people with hearing loss read lips. Don’t speak directly into their ear because the person won’t be able to see your lips.

DON’T: Forget to eliminate white noise

Most people with hearing loss have a hard time distinguishing speech over a noisy air conditioner, a humming fish tank, or anything that whirs, murmurs or rumbles. Don’t try to chat over the TV.

DON’T: All talk at once

At a dinner party or meeting, where there may be eight to ten people present, try to have one general conversation instead of several overlapping ones.

DON’T: Say “Never mind, it doesn’t matter”

If someone doesn’t hear what you’ve said after you’ve restated it two or three times, don’t give up. Rephrase and retry. To the person who can’t hear you, everything matters.


Need more information about the hearing loss, including its types and causes? Find more here from our carefully selected partner, Hidden Hearing.