Hearing Loss in Adults

Living with hearing loss can be extremely frustrating.  Listed below are the Six Key Strategies according to ASHA for living well with hearing loss.

1. Get attention first. Improve speech understanding by getting a person’s attention first. For example, tapping Louise on the shoulder would let her prepare to receive the incoming message and allow her to direct her attention appropriately. This strategy is useful when speaking to anyone, but especially for someone with hearing loss because it provides additional cues to the listener about when and where the signal will occur.

2. Walk before you talk. It is beneficial to be in the same room and facing the listener. This strategy not only decreases the distance between the speaker and the listener, but also allows the listener to take advantage of visual cues. Integrating auditory and visual cues has been shown to improve speech understanding for listeners with hearing loss. Decreasing the distance between the speaker and the listener increases the intensity of the signal, thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio. More favorable listening conditions may lead to increased speech understanding.

3. Speak slowly. Slow your rate of speech when speaking to someone with hearing loss to improve comprehension and recall. A recent study showed that at a typical conversational rate of speech, listeners with hearing loss recall significantly fewer elements of the message than those with normal hearing. However, when listeners with hearing loss are allowed to adjust the rate of speech, these differences are eliminated.

4. Give the topic. When listeners know the topic of conversation before the talker begins speaking, speech understanding is enhanced. Listeners are able to fill in the gaps when they miss auditory input. Listeners with hearing loss may use knowledge of the topic or context to reduce the number of possible alternatives, thus increasing accurate perception of speech.

5. Rephrase. When a listener misunderstands, a speaker’s typical response is to repeat the message. Although this is the most common repair strategy, it is the least effective after one repetition. The preferred strategy is to then rephrase the message by changing the word order or selecting different vocabulary.

6. Use keywords. Miscommunication may occur due to poor understanding rather than not hearing. Responding with a keyword instead of a nonspecific

“What?” or “Huh?” gives speakers additional information about how to rephrase their responses. For example, “What did you say about dinner?” rather than, “What?” might reduce emotional reactions and increase communication. The speaker knows the listener is engaged in the conversation, and how to repair the breakdown.

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