Communication with friends and family

April 15, 2016


Communication at home

Modern houses are not all adapted to the specific needs of hearing-impaired people. Three important factors can influence your understanding at home: lighting, furniture arrangement, and surrounding noise.

For hearing-impaired people


  • Choose lamps that light the entire face:
    • Install ceiling lights instead of conventional lamps at eye level.
    • Favour tall and floor lamps (torchieres).
  • Favour natural light.
  • Sit with your back to the window so the light falls on your conversation partner’s face.
  • Have multiple hearing-impaired people sit in chairs facing one another so the light comes from the side.

Furniture arrangement:

  • Make sure armchairs and chairs are positioned no further than 6 feet apart.
  • Place armchairs or chairs so everyone can see each other’s faces.
  • Avoid taking conversations from one room to another (or one floor to another). Ask your partner to come into the same room as you.

Surrounding noise:

  • Close doors of rooms where there is noise.
  • Turn off or turn down televisions, radios, and stereo systems.
  • Ask children to play in the basement or in their rooms.
  • Use loud appliances at night (washing machine, dishwasher, etc.).
  • If traffic or outdoor noise is a problem, close the windows or doors, or move to a quieter room in the house.

In addition to the tips mentioned above, a hearing-impaired person can use these strategies:

  • If you have hearing aids, use them.
  • When someone talks to you, stop what you are doing and look at them.
  • Pay attention when someone talks to you.
  • Ask your partner:
    • To look at you when they speak (so you can observe lip movements and facial expressions)
    • To talk more slowly, a little more loudly, and without yelling
    • To say things in another way
    • To write down important information on a piece of paper

For conversation partners

  • Get your hearing-impaired partner’s attention before talking to them (e.g., say their name, touch their shoulder).
  • Move closer to the hearing-impaired person (avoid talking to them from another room or floor).
    Talk clearly and naturally, in a normal voice.
  • Talk to your partner face to face to help them lip read and see your facial expressions.
  • Eliminate background noise before talking to the person. For example, turn off or turn down the television or radio.
  • Pay attention to lighting, so hearing-impaired people can easily see your face.
  • Say things differently if hearing-impaired people do not understand well (by changing words or sentences, adding a gesture).
  • Advise hearing-impaired people when there is an abrupt change in topic or when the conversation is suddenly interrupted.
  • Write down important information.