Hearing is an essential ability, which plays an important role in the life of every person. Unfortunately, people are increasingly faced with hearing problems, gradually losing touch with the outside world.
Sounds surround us throughout our lives. Thanks to them, we perceive the world around us, holistically analyzing the incoming information. Studies have shown that audio-visual information is absorbed by the human brain by 95%. While the image without accompanying sounds is perceived and remembered only by 80%. That is why, with impaired auditory perception, the quality of human life is sharply reduced. Besides, the likelihood of developing social and psychological problems increases. Why is this happening?
How hearing loss affects communication?
Communication with other people is a fundamental need. Why is it so important?
The person receives confirmation of his identity from others. Thus, personal identification occurs. This does not seem to matter to our consciousness, but it is very important to the subconscious
Communication allows you to compare yourself with others. We receive an assessment of our qualities, actions, and deeds
We receive approval, sympathy, and support as confirmation that our feelings are correct and justified
A person takes pleasure in sharing his feelings with others. Satisfaction will not be complete if there is no one nearby who could be happy for you
This is why communication is so important to humans. Thanks to it, we do not lose ourselves. A person focuses on other people and compares himself to them. Through communication, we can achieve career success and make friends, as well as build relationships with family and friends.
It is important to understand that hearing impairment and communication are closely related. After all, hearing impairment does not only impact the individual with the hearing loss but those that are around him/her as well.
Hearing-impaired people suffer greatly from increased anxiety. They are constantly listening for sounds. Therefore, they quickly get tired, can become depressed and withdrawn into themselves. A person may begin to feel fear of being alone, confusion. Social isolation develops with subsequent psychological problems. To prevent this, you need to find out in a confidential conversation what problems a person is experiencing and try to put yourself in his place. It is necessary to learn how best to help him.
Hearing and healthy communication is the key to a strong relationship. Only in this way, partners can understand each other and share the most secret things. If your loved one has a hearing loss this is not the end. Follow our tips and continue to love each other.
Most often, hearing loss develops gradually without any pronounced symptoms. Therefore, people rarely seek help in the early stages of its development. Although today, you can quickly and free of charge test your hearing. An online hearing test is one of the best solutions. If you suspect that you or your loved one have hearing problems, then just take this test. The results will show the presence or absence of a problem and determine the necessary follow up.
Helpful tips for better communication
The ability to communicate with a person that has a hearing-impairment requires practice and patience from both parties. It is very important to understand that at least two people are involved in any communication process. This means that you too must share the responsibility. Our leading audiologist, Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro has prepared some hard of hearing communication tips, which will help you.
Keep in mind that certain places are more difficult to communicate in, such as: auditoriums, theaters, restaurants; places of worship. It becomes important to pay attention to the environment and find the least noisy place, for example a corner table in a restaurant.
Get the other person’s attention before starting a conversation. Make sure the other person hears and understands that you have entered the room. If necessary, you can wave your hand or lightly touch the person to get attention
Try to stand directly in front of each other to establish eye contact. It is important to establish eye contact. This is especially true for those that use American Sign Language and are part of the deaf and hard of hearing community [image =communication-with-hearing-impairment]
Provide good lighting in the room – to see each other
Those ndivusals that are talking to the person with the hearing loss should use something called Clear Speech. Articulating words and speaking clearly as well as a little slower and louder will help greatly with understanding.
When talking, do not hide your mouth or chin, chew or smoke
Do not shout, speak in a calm measured voice, without drawing out the words
Do not try to speed up the conversation. Be prepared that it will take you longer to talk to someone with a hearing loss
Stop during a conversation and ask if the other person understands you
When talking in a company, you should not interrupt each other or shout out, you need to communicate in turn
Think over the essence of what you are going to say. Once the hearing-impaired person understands the conversation, it will be easier for them to understand you. Don’t change the subject of the conversation abruptly
Formulate your thoughts in simple words and short sentences
Use gestures and visual cues. Stop or linger on any subject you are talking about. Wait for the person to look at you, and then continue the conversation. You can also use facial expressions
If you are having trouble communicating, ask if the other person would like to use another method, such as writing or typing. If necessary, use a pen and piece of paper to write or draw what you want to say
And two very important rules:
Do not assume that hearing problems are an indicator of a person’s low level of intelligence
Do not assume that the person with the hearing loss cannot understand you
The behavior of a person with hearing impairment differs from that of ordinary people. It can be different, for example, restless and fussy, even appearing annoyed. This is due to a lack of information and a desire to avoid communication with other people. Closure can be associated with a negative experience, with the fear of being misunderstood, ridiculed.
After all, it is difficult for a healthy person to understand that conversations and hearing loss are closely related. At the same time, the need for communication remains unchanged. If you are faced with a similar situation, do not turn away from the person, but on the contrary, support him and show that you can and want to communicate.
How to talk with a hearing aid user?
If you or a loved one have lost their hearing, then the best way to help is to provide moral support and encourage the person to seek professional help from an audiologist. A specialist will diagnose and select a special device – a hearing aid, which restores lost abilities. Hearing correction will help improve the quality of life and bring joy to communication.
A hearing aid is an assistive device for a hearing-impaired person. However, when you first put on the device, you need to get used to using it first.
A person is now able to hear sounds that he, perhaps, did not hear for a very long time. It takes time to get used to hearing aids. But the process itself can be much easier if the hearing impaired person feels the support of family, acquaintances, and colleagues. Here are some guidelines for doing this:
If the person wears a hearing aid, make sure the device is turned on and the volume is set to the correct level
It is imperative that you stay close to each other when communicating. When you double the distance, the volume of your voice is halved. It follows that even a small increase in distance can cause confusion
To create an effective communication environment, eliminate all sources of noise before engaging in conversation, keep in mind the acoustics of the room.
You can also use the rest of the tips above when communicating with the hearing aid user.
Remember that hearing and communication are closely related. Most hearing-impaired people are embarrassed to admit that they do not understand what they are told. They also have to put in a tremendous amount of effort to focus on the other person’s speech and fully understand it, which can lead to stress and extreme fatigue. Family, colleagues and loved ones must express their understanding and support.
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]