Shockingly, there are over 360 million people worldwide who suffer from hearing loss or deafness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is a condition that not only affects a person’s hearing, but also emotions in the form of anxiety and depression. Feelings such as depression and anxiety can be intensified in social situations and when communicating with others.
With over five percent of the world’s population affected by hearing loss, it is important for others to be mindful of how to communicate effectively with those experiencing it. You don’t need to know sign language to communicate effectively with hard-of-hearing individuals. However, knowing how to communicate with those who have hearing loss can make interactions easy and natural.
1. Don’t yell
A common misconception when communicating with those affected by hearing loss is that you may need to speak loud or even yell. But, yelling at a person with hearing difficulties can make them feel more isolated and discouraged. Instead, speak at a normal volume and pace.
2. Make eye contact and face them when speaking
Looking in the direction of someone when you are speaking makes it easier for them to understand you. People with hearing loss or deafness can often read lips. Moreover, a person’s facial expressions often reveal more information than their words. In fact, body language, including facial expressions and posture, accounts for 55 percent of communication.
3. Speak clearly
When you mumble or slur words, it is difficult for even those with perfect hearing to understand what you mean. Therefore, it is important for people to speak clearly with those that have hearing issues. Another part of speaking clearly is not to rush your words. Thus, speaking too fast can cause some words to get lost in the translation.
4. Include them in conversations with others
People suffering from deafness or hearing issues may feel uncomfortable in social situations because, at times, they are treated as if they are not a part of the conversation or even in the same room. Remember that they will most likely understand the conversations going on around them.
5. Be patient
Even when you follow the rest of the tips mentioned above, sometimes bits of conversations may go unheard or misinterpreted. This happens in conversations between people all the time, regardless of whether or not the participants have a perfect or impaired hearing. It is crucial to be patient when communicating with hearing impaired individuals. It may take them a few extra seconds to understand your meaning or to form a response. But, when you show patience, people are more likely to appreciate your kindness.
Communicating with others can be a stressful scenario for the hearing impaired. They may have already faced prejudice or uncomfortable social interactions in the past. Communicating effectively with those that suffer from hearing loss or deafness can be easily accomplished when you keep these tips in mind.