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Enhancing communication for those with hearing loss

Riddle Hospital December 23, 2015 General Wellness By Jessica M. Bell, AuD

Listening with a hearing loss can be challenging, tiring, and frustrating. So much so that some people may even “tune out” of important conversations. It is important to realize that, even with the best hearing devices, communication can still be a challenge in a variety of environments. In order to communicate effectively with our loved ones with hearing loss, good communication strategies are essential.

Here are several effective strategies which enhance communication with, or without, the use of hearing technology.


Hearing takes concentration, especially for those with hearing loss. Gaining the listener's attention and allowing them to focus on you before beginning a conversation will ensure they are fully prepared to listen to what you have to say. A simple task such as addressing the person by name or making eye contact is a great start to a successful conversation.

Provide context

Providing context allows the listener to focus on the intended topic and will decrease the guessing game of what is being said to them. Think of “Wheel of Fortune” as an example. The players guess letters based on a known category. The players are more likely to solve the puzzle if they can narrow their scope to a category. This is similar for patients with hearing loss, as they may not hear all of the letters in every word. Therefore, they may need to fill in the blanks accordingly.

Look at each other

In most situations, it is important for the listener to see the lips of the speaker. Lip reading (or speech reading) is a common practice among those with hearing loss. Providing speech reading cues, along with contextual cues, increases the listener's ability to gain the full picture of what is being said.  Well-lit areas are best in order to utilize speech reading compensation strategies. Speaking from a different room should be considered out of the question.

Location, location, location

Where a conversation takes place is just as important as how it takes place. When possible, avoid situations where high background noise is present. Fans, wind, and other extraneous noises can also complicate the listening situation. Although hearing technology has come a long way, the most benefit will be gained in a quiet, well lit location.

Speak slowly, speak clearly

Rapid, muffled speech can lead to a discouraging conversation. When communicating, use slow, clear speech. There is no need to shout or exaggerate lip movements. If there are multiple people in the conversation, take turns speaking and make sure to follow the other strategies discussed here.


Whether you’re the speaker or the listener, it is important to continue to have a positive attitude. It is understandable that communicating with someone with hearing loss can be frustrating at times; however, the goal of any conversation is to be able to communicate successfully with each other. Using good communication strategies, in addition to your well fit hearing technology, is bound to improve your level of communication.

The audiologists at Riddle Hospital are a team of caring professionals who are ready to evaluate and advise you regarding your need for further medical evaluation and hearing treatment. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.

Jessica M. Bell, AuD, is a doctor of audiology at the Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at Riddle Hospital.