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Ask the Expert: Communicating with a hearing impairment

Answers by Kristen Dargay, Au.D., CCC-A, clinical audiologist

Question: What is the best way to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired?

Communication with a person who has hearing loss can be challenging for both parties. Even when hearing aids are used, proper communication strategies are essential for maximizing the experience.

When speaking with a person with a hearing loss, try following these tips:

Kristen Dargay, Au.D., CCC-A, clinical audiologist, at Janning ENT

Maintain eye contact with the hearing-impaired individual, facing him or her directly. Do not attempt to hold a conversation from another room; visual cues are an important component of successful communication.

Make sure you have the person’s attention before beginning a conversation. It helps to state their name so they are aware you’re addressing them.

Speak slowly (but not too slowly to where it is exaggerated) and concisely. Resist the temptation to shout, which can lead to distorted speech and make your words more difficult to understand. Pause between sentences to ensure what you are saying is understood.

Try to find a quiet area free of background noise, which can be distracting and cause the hearing-impaired individual to miss out on much of what you are saying.

Repeat yourself if necessary. Try using a different words or rephrasing your sentence if it is too confusing. Refrain from complex words and phrases.

Supplement your conversation by writing down important information. This might include jotting down the topic you will be discussing beforehand.

Pay attention to the listener. If he or she looks confused, offer to clarify what you have just said.

What is the best way to communicate if you are hearing impaired?

If you are experiencing hearing loss, advocate for yourself and your hearing loss. Communicate what your needs are with the person you are communicating with. Would moving to a well-lit area that is quieter help? Should you stand closer to the speaker? Let the other person know how to help.

It is also important to anticipate difficult situations and make a plan to minimize them. This includes offering to host social events, recommending quiet restaurants or being sure to wear your hearing aids at all times.

Pay attention to the conversation and keep your eyes on the speaker. They may use visual clues to help you understand better.

Don’t interrupt. As the conversation flows, you may gain greater understanding of what is being said.

React to what is being said so the speaker knows whether or not you understand what they’re saying.

And finally, be honest. Admit when you don’t understand and communicate what can be improved.

Hearing loss can isolate you from your loved ones, so don’t let it go untreated. If you suspect you have hearing loss, visit Janning ENT Center for a hearing test.

Janning ENT Center is located at 1801 19th Ave SW, in Willmar. For more information or to set up an appointment, call 320-231-3277 or email

“Ask the Expert” is sponsored content (paid advertising) provided by Janning ENT. To learn how your business can promote its products and services like this, contact Sr. Perspective.

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