How to Communicate with Someone Who Has Hearing Loss

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When someone suffers from hearing, it is difficult (and frustrating) for them to communicate effectively with others. While there are a variety of assistive devices available to make sound louder, it is most important that proper communication techniques be practiced in order to maximize hearing and listening performance. Here are some tips you can use when talking with someone who has a hearing problem.

Useful Tips When Talking to Someone with Hearing Loss

Get Their Attention

Get the listener's attention before speaking. Give them a topic related to the conversation so they have a better understanding of what to expect.

Reduce Background Noise

Try to eliminate as much background noise as possible. During conversations, turn off the radio or television. When you are in restaurants and social gatherings, choose seats or conversation areas away from crowded or noisy areas.

Speak One at a Time

Try to make sure only one person talks at a time. Include people with hearing loss in the conversation, but don't talk over other people.

Speak Clearly

Face the person and talk clearly. Speak at a reasonable speed. Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum.

Speak Loudly

Speak a little more loudly than normal, but don't shout. Try to annunciate your words clearly and be conscious of the volume of your voice.

Repeat Yourself

It is not uncommon for a person with hearing loss to shake their head as though they understand what you've said. Ask them if the got the information and if necessary, repeat yourself.

Re-Phrase

Rephrase your statement into shorter, simpler sentences if it appears you are not being understood.

Have Good Lighting

Stand in good lighting, use facial expressions and look at the person's face while speaking. Even if the individual with hearing loss never studied lip-reading, they can gain a great deal of information looking at the speakers face and body language.

Be Understanding

If you feel frustrated trying to speak to someone with a hearing loss, think for a minute how it must be for them. Try to make it easier by changing words or re-phrasing statements.

As much as you want the person with hearing loss to hear what you have to say, they want to be able to listen, understand and participate. Coping with hearing loss requires cooperative efforts. If you think someone you love has a hearing problem, suggest they see a doctor for a hearing test.


The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) is one of the Institutes that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and focuses on the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and deafness.

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20 Comments

My Dad is 100 yrs old and shakes his head when I talk to him and I know that he really dosn't hear me but he wants me to think that he can. He's still very sharp and he needs to engage in conversation with people especially those who take care of him. I realized one day how isolated he was and how much of life he was missing because he dosn't understand what anyone is talking about or being able to reply to the many questions that grandchildren ask. I started writing notes when I wanted to ask him a question or just comment on something that we were watching on TV/. It made a tremendous difference in his attidude and his feeling of well being. Now everyone writes him notes and it has turned out to be fun for his grandchildren it's almost like a game for them. He feels like he's still a part of everything going on and is still part of the decision making process. It takes a little effort but the rewards are well worth it. The hearing impaired elderly still have much to talk about, afterall theres nothing wrong with there vocal chords. Happy Writing
Use a pad of paper and a big fat black pen. My MIL has wax impacted ears -- she refuses to go to doctor to have it removed. I'd scream at her to be heard and she would get upset because not only couldn't she hear but you just can't scream at someone and look pleasant - she thought I was angry with her. I write and she talks (she can hear herself so I know she has no hearing loss). It works. Try it.
MIL is 91...paid $ 6000.00 for her hearing aids and does not want to wear them...is legally blind in one eye and cognitive function of the other eye is impaired due to Parkinson's...I do talk loud so that she can hear me, but our daughter tells me I sound mad...I try not to but realize that I sometimes do. When it's a day that the dementia has her calling us all night long to ask what time it is because she wants to get up at 4, I probably am...that has gotten better since my husband started getting up to help with her...I try to be a decent person but it's hard to function on 4 hours sleep, and not get cranky.