Tips to keep the phone conversation flowing when someone has hearing loss

Whether you are experiencing hearing loss or have a friend or family member with hearing loss, it's important for all parties to maintain easy and engaging communication. Just like any relationship, maintaining respect and empathy for the other person is key.

For those with hearing loss, conversations can be tiring and frustrating when you're struggling to hear what's being said. In addition, if you are communicating with someone with a hearing loss, it can be hard to know if are doing all you can to make it as easy and enjoyable for that person to understand you.

In a previous post we addressed the key tips and strategies to use when talking face-to-face with someone. So, in the spirit of making communication easier and more enjoyable for everyone we've now got some tips on how to talk on the phone.

How to talk on the phone to someone with hearing loss

When you’re calling someone with hearing loss, using a good phone technique and remembering to speak clearly will help them hear as much as possible. Being mindful about when and where you call from can make all the difference. Here's five easy things to try.

1. Speak directly into the phone’s mouthpiece. Don’t hold it too close, as this can distort your voice and you’ll lose clarity.

2. Speak naturally and at a moderate speed. Talking too fast will make it hard to follow you and speaking too slowly can come across as demeaning. Speak normailly and avoid making the person with hearing loss feel self-consciously. Use pauses rather than slow speech to give the person time to process speech.

3. Choosing the right speaking volume. There is no need to shout. Shouting actually changes the words. Try not to mumble, as this is very hard to understand, even for people with normal hearing.

4. Find a quiet place to call from. Calling from the street, a café or an environment where there is background sounds can introduce noise that will distract the listener from hearing your voice. Some people with hearing loss are very sensitive to loud sounds.

5. People with hearing loss, like most people in fact, find it harder to hear when ill or tired. So it's best to ask them if you are calling at the right time and whether or not you should call back.

Telephone tips for someone with a hearing loss

Setting the stage for a great telephone conversation involves letting people know the best way to go about it. Your friends and family want to involve and engage you in what is going on and will only be too happy for you to hear how they can make things better for you

Be patient with yourself. When conversing on the telephone you are missing out on seeing someone's body language, on being able to lip read and seeing someone's facial expressions, all of which to help fill in the gaps in a spoken conversation. Don't be too harsh on yourself, there's some simple techniques that can really make a big difference. Here's six to get you started

1. Find a quiet space. Background noise can really interfere with your ability to follow the conversation, so if you're at home, turn off the TV and radio.

2. If you have a landline, ask people to call this number first. Generally, landlines are easier to hear on, especially if you have a speaker function. If you are using a mobile, use a headset it willn  as it is easier for you to use and hear, especially if you have a speaker function. If you are called on a mobile, use a headset as it will help isolate the speaker’s voice.

3. Don’t pretend you heard something if you didn't. There's nothing wrong with admitting it when you don't understand or if you've missed something. It can be easy to misunderstand words over the phone no matter what hearing ability you have. So don't feel awkward asking someone to speak up or speak more clearly.

4. Let people know the best time to call you. You may find that toward the end of the day you are feeling tired and therefore find it harder to hear.

5. Consider using Skype or FaceTime. Applications like these mean you will be able to see the person talking to you and pick up some of the visual clues that assist you when talking face to face.

6. Consider purchasing an amplified phone. Devices like these are specifically designed for the hearing impaired. They look like a regular home phone but have additional features that allow you to increase the volume of incoming sounds. Some also have the ability to increase the volume of the ringer, so it's easier to hear the phone ring if in another room.

Hopefully, these tips will assist you with communication over the phone.

If you think your hearing has changed make an appointment to have a hearing test. We have an initial free test which will help determine if you require a second, more thorough test with an Audiologist. Learning about your current levels of hearing is an excellent first step towards maintaining your hearing as best you can and staying connected to those around you.

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