Communication is a necessary part of our everyday lives. Yet, there are many different ways of communicating with each other. For people with hearing loss, some communication methods are more accessible than others.
Whether it’s face-to-face communication, talking on the phone, texting, emailing or instant messaging, communication looks different to people with hearing loss.
In this article, I aim to help you understand some communication challenges for the deaf and hard of hearing. I’ll also provide tips for how to communicate with someone who has hearing loss.
For people with hearing loss, communication can easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted. These communication challenges can occur in a variety of settings, including in-person and over the phone. Whether it’s the sound acoustics in a room, language barriers, misunderstood facial expressions and or lip-reading challenges, it’s often difficult for someone with hearing loss to understand everything.
In my personal experience, talking on the phone often poses a barrier for me. That’s why I prefer written communication such as email or texting. When something is in writing, I’m not missing words or sounds, and although some things are easier to be dealt with verbally (which I do as needed); written communication is smoother.
However, many of my friends and colleagues don’t always understand why I prefer to communicate in writing. Many pass it up as me being weird, anti-social, or socially awkward. The truth is, however, that it’s just a much more feasible mode of communication for myself, as well as many other people with hearing loss.
Understanding communication challenges among the deaf and hard of hearing allows the hearing world to be more understanding and accessible.
Over the phone, certain sounds can be unclear or muffled. Although this has improved greatly with captioned phones and Bluetooth capabilities, it still can remain a challenge and pose frustrations for the following reasons:
The best way to communicate with someone with hearing loss
Everyone with hearing loss has different communication preferences that work for them. What works best for someone might not work best for another with hearing loss. Even though writing, text, or email is better for me than the phone, someone else with hearing loss might actually prefer the phone, or using even sign language.
Read more: How to learn sign language
Taking the time to understand how someone with hearing loss prefers to communicate can be immensely helpful for both you and the person with hearing loss. It can lead to more effective and smoother conversations and improve your relationship. Try a variety to methods, and see what way works best for you.