There are many different cues that we receive that help us to understand speech and language. People with normal hearing don't always receive all the cues, but the English language has enough redundancies that they often get enough cues to correctly identify the message. However some cues are unheard due to the hearing loss.  Increased reliance is then placed on the remaining cues to understand conversation. This becomes more difficult when hearing is compromised and frustration often occurs between family members as everyone struggles to understand the rules of communication.

Instead of getting frustrated, use the following tips to help you communicate more effectively and take your hearing loss in your own hands.

Helpful Tips

Be an advocate for yourself.

Others cannot guess what you need. By hiding a hearing loss you will miss conversation and may respond inappropriately and cause further miscommunication. Ways to be an advocate:

  • Tell others if you are having difficulty understanding.
  • If you don't understand what someone has said ask him or her to rephrase the message, not just repeat it.

Educate others regarding hearing loss. 

Many do not understand why you can hear that they are talking but cannot understand what they are saying. They also don't know what they can do to help. Ask others to talk more slowly and clearly and not to obstruct their mouths.

Manipulate your environment to your advantage. 

Hearing clearly when there is background noise is probably the biggest challenge for people with hearing loss. When you can, choose quiet listening environments. In a restaurant, request to be seated in a quiet area away from the door and the kitchen. Partitions and low ceilings may be helpful to reduce noise. Also carpet and upholstery may help to reduce echo, which may help you to understand speech more clearly. Good lighting may also be helpful so that you can see the speaker's face and gestures.

  • If you have a good ear, place yourself so that it is facing the speaker.
  • Different environments pose unique challenges. Get creative and make each environment work to your strengths.
  • When attending a meeting, get an agenda so that you know the topics that will be discussed. This will give you a few key words to work from when listening.
  • In a lecture, ask if you may tape record the speaker so that you can review the details later if you missed something.

Investigate assistive listening devices.

These devices often allow the listener to receive the sound directly from the source, thereby eliminating background noise. They are often available at many theaters, churches and other public venues and are free to use. You may also purchase personal assistive listening devices for use at home or elsewhere. These may include amplified telephones, smoke detectors and alarm clocks, as well as personal devices to listen to the TV. Your audiologist may be able to help you investigate these devices.