Over the past 22 years of working with people with hearing loss I have noted that there are several difficulties that are very common among them in regard to being able to hear other people’s conversation. Some of those are
— People talk to me while looking the other direction or facing away from me
— People try to talk to me from another room
— People talk to me while I’m watching television
If you have someone close to you, a family member or friend, with a hearing problem there are things you can do to help. It’s a hard to remember a long list of dos and don’ts so I’ve tried to simplify it. If you can develop the habit of ONLY talking to them if you can see their eyes it will greatly improve the ease of communication with most anyone you that has hearing difficulty. If you look back over the above list of complaints you’ll notice that it is almost impossible to do any of those things if you can see “the whites of their eyes”. Conversation requires active participation and effort from at least two people, and that is even more true when one or more of those people have hearing impairment.
This will certainly not solve all communication problems – it doesn’t work when you are riding in the car, for example. There are also other things that some people unknowing do that make it harder for those around them to hear and understand well – like talking with their hand over their mouth. However, if you will make an effort to put the “whites of their eyes” rule into practice I can almost guarantee that you will see improvement in ease of communication and the hearing impaired person in your life will both notice and appreciate the effort.
Finally, if your friend or family member hasn’t gotten their hearing checked to see if there is help available please encourage them to do so.