What a Listener Who Has a Hearing Loss Can Do to Improve Communication

  1. Make it a habit to watch the speaker even if listening is not difficult. It is good to get in the habit of paying attention to visual cues. 
  2. Get closer to the speaker or sound source in both individual and group situations. Position yourself to take advantage of good lighting so that the light source is behind you, on the speaker. 
  3. If possible, reduce background noise when trying to have a conversation. Turn off the television or radio, roll up the car window, turn off the water when doing the dishes, or move to a quieter location. In unavoidably noisy situations, try to orient yourself in the best possible position, such as in a corner or against a wall. This may take some experimentation, as the best location will vary a great deal depending on the room acoustics. 
  4. Tell people about your hearing problem. Ask them to speak slowly and clearly and to rephrase and repeat as needed. 
  5. Don’t interrupt the speaker before he or she finishes a sentence. You may not understand the beginning but may catch the end. 
  6. Summarize what you did hear so that your communication partner knows what to fill in. Asking “what did you say about yesterday?” is more helpful than just asking “what?” 
  7. Learn to look for ideas rather than isolated words. Keep alert for keywords in sentences to follow ideas. 
  8. Use the clues from the situation to help get meanings. The idea is often spelled out by the actual situation. You may be able to anticipate words or phrases that will probably be used. 
  9. Don’t be afraid to guess, using situational and contextual clues. Keep informed of your friends’ interests. If you and your friends have favorite topics, this limited content makes understanding easier. 
  10. Avoid pretending that you understood what was said. It may lead to greater confusion. 

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