“Helping Those with Hearing Loss,” Ensign, June 2001, 68–69
For those who have no problems hearing, being aware of the challenges of being hearing-impaired can help us to be more sensitive to others’ needs. Following are ways to improve communication.
When speaking, face the person directly. Avoid covering your mouth with your hands. Besides improving conduction of sound waves, this allows those who can lip-read to understand better.
Pronounce your words distinctly. Clear enunciation greatly improves understanding.
Speak louder. Talking louder than normal may help facilitate hearing, but do not shout. Excessive volume can blur sounds.
Remember that most hearing aids magnify ALL sounds. This means that not only is your voice amplified, but also the background noise. This cacophony of sound makes it difficult for a person losing their hearing to pick out the voice of the person who is speaking to them. In these situations, asking a person to “turn up his hearing aid” is not a viable solution. Move closer, speak louder, or wait until the background noise has subsided.
Get their attention before speaking. Many hearing-impaired individuals have learned to ignore noise in order to concentrate on what is around them. They may not realize you want to speak to them unless you first get their attention. If you are approaching them from behind, get their attention by touching them on the arm. If approaching from the front, you may need to give a gentle hand movement to get their attention.
Realize that hearing aids do not restore all hearing. “The hard-of-hearing appreciate it when people know that hearing aids are not devices that give normal hearing,” says audiologist Evelyn Cherow, past director of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You may want to consider learning some sign language to help you communicate.
Those who hear well can be sensitive to others’ needs and reach across the natural barriers that exist between the hearing and the hard-of-hearing world.—Marlene B. Sullivan, Orchard Fifth Ward, Bountiful Utah Orchard Stake