Guidelines for Effective Communication with a Hearing Impairment
  • Look at the speaker. Position yourself to get a view of the speaker’s face.

  • Consider having your eyes examined to maximize visual cues.

  • Avoid bluffing, or acting as if you understand. Ask questions instead.

  • Try to direct the conversation to a quiet area of the room.

  • Eliminate background noise by turning off the TV or faucet.

  • Use assistive listening devices.

  • Maximize the use of lighting. Have the light source behind you instead of behinds the speaker.

  • Avoid sitting close to hard surfaces as sound may bounce off of these surfaces, causing reverberation noise that will make it even more difficult to understand what someone is saying.

  • Reduce the distance between you and the speaker.

  • Explain your needs to the speaker. Explain in a polite way how they can become a more effective talker.

  • Ask for repetitions. Repeat or rephrase what you think you heard.

  • Relax! Don’t strain to understand every word that is spoken.

  • Try to maintain a sense or humor and be prepared to laugh at your mistakes!

Adapted from ASHA’s Audiology Information Series, Communication with people with hearing impairment, 2003.

For further information about communication strategies for listeners and talkers, visit the Better Hearing Institute online at





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