Strategies for better comprehension

November 15, 2009 by Michèle Veilleux
Strategies for better comprehensionPeople who are hearing-impaired, and members of their social circle, regularly experience communication breakdowns. Hearing aids improve hearing, but are not always enough. There are communication strategies that can be used to improve comprehension, and responsibility for implementing them is shared by both the hearing-impaired person and everyone he speaks with.

Some Examples

  • Let people know that you have a hearing problem. Ask people to get your attention when they want to speak with you. That way, you’ll be more likely to hear all that they say.
  • Stay within 1-2 meters of what/who you’re listening to, because sound loses intensity the further it travels.
  • Speak face to face, so that you will be able to see their facial expressions, but primarily so that you will be able to speechread. For the person speaking to you, it’s important to articulate clearly without exaggerating, and to speak slowly.
  • Background noise is undeniably the sworn enemy of easy communication. As much as possible, reduce background noise from sources such as hood fans, faucets, dishwashers, and other conversations nearby.
  • Arrange your environment to have the best possible acoustics. For example, in a restaurant, choose a table away from sources of noise.
  • If all else fails, ask people to repeat what they’ve said. Using hand gestures can be helpful as well. Be aware that yelled speech is not at all helpful. Sometimes, all that is needed is for them to raise their voice just a little.

Implementing these strategies will improve your comprehension. Of course, these strategies require effort on your part, and on the part of your friends, family and associates, but they become indispensible. For more information, don’t hesitate to consult your audiologist at one of Lobe Santé auditive et communication’s clinics.

Tips for facilitating communication

Tips for your friends, family, and other social contacts

  • I speak in the same room as the person with the hearing problem.
  • I get his/her attention before starting to speak (example: I call his name or touch him/her).
  • I bring myself closer to him/her and face him/her to facilitate speechreading.
  • I speak clearly and slowly, but I don’t exaggerate my speech.
  • I don’t yell.
  • I use different words if the ones I initially used were not understood.
  • I turn off the noise around us (television, radio, etc.).
  • I gesture naturally and avoid hiding my lips behind my fingers, pens, etc.
  • I indicate what I want to discuss, and I also indicate when I’m changing subject.
  • I ask questions.

Tips for people who are hearing-impaired

  • I wear my hearing aids.
  • I explain that I have problems understanding speech.
  • I place myself opposite the person speaking to me and I lipread. I watch the person.
  • I turn off the noise around us (television, radio etc.).
  • I ensure that there’s good lighting on the face of the person with whom I’m speaking.
  • I find out what subject we’re discussing.
  • At a meeting, I ask people to speak one at a time.
  • I ask people to speak slowly.
  • I ask questions.