Cochlear Implants Communication Access Communication Practices Communication with Family Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Lipreading Misconceptions Personal advocacy Self Advocacy

Conversation with Hearing Loss

Understanding a conversation with hearing loss is no easy task. It takes solid focus involving several strategies and self advocacy. Conversation is NOT casual for those with hearing loss. It is a process with our distorted hearing (read Sensorineural Hearing Loss Visuals HERE). This means we hear your voice but we can’t understand all of the words (see Hearing VS Understanding HERE). Even if we wear hearing devices, many people have unrealistic expectations (read more on that HERE) of what our devices can and can’t do. We all use lipreading to some degree but again, there are times when lipreading doesn’t work either (see this POST). 

With hearing loss, we won’t understand the message if we aren’t focused on you. If you don’t have our attention before speaking, it’s a guaranteed repeat. We have to clear our mind to be ready to receive your message. When we are focused on you, we then use the visual aspects of communication to fill in gaps. On top of that, we are using logic and what we know of the topic to fill in other holes.  

Conversation runs smoother when the speaker is focused and not multitasking as well.

The following story shows you what processing conversation looks like with hearing loss. It’s how we sort through what we can and can’t hear, while trying to find the topic.

The Hearing Loss Process:

The hearing wife is at the kitchen sink, dishes clanking while rinsing and setting them in the drainer. She says something, back turned to the Hard of Hearing (HoH) husband who is sitting at the table looking at his phone. The HoH husband hears the voice but doesn’t understand a single word. The noisy dishes override speech. He has no choice but to ask for a full repeat at that point. 

Green background that fades to blue. Black font: Moving targets are hard for people with hearing loss.
Image of an icon running.
Black font: WE can't use the visual components of communication.

His wife turns around to face him, sort of, but continues moving around the kitchen as she talks. This is a moving target which cuts down on lipreading abilities and visual cues. The husband asks her to stop, face him and say it again.

Maybe the noise and moving target rattled him a little. Even with her facing him, he cannot grasp the topic of the conversation which is key to lipreading strategies. This is a new conversation. Without knowing the topic, he has to pull random ideas of what he knows about her likes/dislikes and her typical conversation topics. He sees a word, he thinks, and takes a stab at the topic.

“Are you talking about your plants?” 

Plants is the word he thought he saw. She recently put her garden in so plants have been a big topic lately. He asked a specific question to gain clarity on the topic. If he can just figure out what the topic is, everything else tends to fall in place. 

“No, I’m talking about hiking to Lake Blanche.” 
Green background that fades to blue.
Black font: With hearing loss, we play  a lot with; it looks like, it sounds like, here's what I know. 
There's a hand drawn image of an eye, an ear with a hearing aid in it then a magnifying glass with a questions mark in it.

Now he has focus on the topic with the extra information she provided. It’s no longer random and it’s easier to follow the conversation. She slowed down with a simple, direct statement. Now he can fill the gaps easier with what he knows of the hike and the lake.  

Look Like, Sounds Like

‘Blanche’ and ‘plants’ look a lot alike on the lips. That is why hearing aids alone don’t always help, especially in background noise. Lipreading isn’t exact either. Understanding conversation with a hearing loss is a combination of strategies.

Learning better communication practices on both sides is a must to smooth out those conversations. Reduce background noise and movement, then follow the 3 Golden Rules

Look for our online, LIVE, lipreading classes which start again in September. We offer a ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ registration. Bring your partner because when you learn together, you grow the know for better communication for you both. We have two of the classes in video format if you want to start now. 

Get to know us through our short videos on YouTube HERE. We talk about about communication strategies for those with hearing loss.

Communication Access Communication Practices Communication with Family Connections Hard of Hearing Hearing Aids Hearing Loss Personal advocacy

3 Golden Rules

The 3 Golden Rules provide better communication outcomes for everyone with hearing loss. They improve communication if you have hearing aids, cochlear implants or no hearing devices. By following these simple rules, communication breakdowns would happen less often, hearing loss or no hearing loss. They make the difference between hearing and understanding.

A purple meme with a ring of gold that has leaves coming off it. White font. The 3 Golden Rules when talking to someone with hearing loss. Get their attention before speaking. Face them while talking. Be within 6 feet.

All 3 rules were considered a social grace but they have fallen by the wayside. We are distracted and multitasking. We are tired, hangry and have a lot on our plate these days. We could all learn to slow down and connect again, properly. The 3 Golden Rules require everyone to be present. With more intention, perhaps we will have less communication breakdowns in general.

For people who have hearing loss, these 3 rules are especially important. Let’s break them down from a hearing loss perspective.

Communication Access Communication Practices Hard of Hearing Lipreading

Gestures & Sign Language

Through teaching our lipreading classes, we found that gestures snap in missing words fast and sign language can cue our needs. We have one lesson in Lipreading Concepts that devotes a lot of time to gestures because not all words are visible on the lips. Some words look exactly the same on the lips like “maybe” and “baby”. Luckily gestures can be used for both. The gesture you’re most likely to pick for “baby” is the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for baby. While there are some signs that look like gestures, visual languages have their own structure and grammar. There are a few basic ASL signs anyone can learn to aid communication with each other and the Deaf community. This month, we talk about using gestures and sign language to aid communication. 

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Our Hearing Partners

Post by Julia Stepp

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

– Leo Tolstoy, Russian Writer

Not long ago, I realized I’ve been a hearing partner my whole life. An aha moment during our Lipreading Concepts class recently reminded me I have been practicing hearing loss communication rules since I was a kid. My grandmother would touch my arm so I would look at her, then she’d say, “Now repeat that.” This simple routine started when I was 7 or 8 years old. 

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Touring the Restaurant with Hearing Loss

Good afternoon and welcome to a session of Hearing Loss LIVE!’s Tour of the Hearing World. Let’s tour the restaurant with a hearing loss, which can be quite the challenge!

Join us as we travel through the land of the hearing, where English sounds like a foreign language…especially as waiters rattle off restaurant specials too fast for our hard of hearing ears. In this world, people don’t look at us while talking, which is essential to people with hearing loss. Also in this world, there are people who mumble and talk with their mouth full of food as we try to lipread. Together, we will dodge communication disasters creating more awareness as we go.

Pick your best seat (never feel guilty about picking your best seat) and enjoy our tour through the land of the Hearies, who don’t speak Hard of Hearing and do not understand the limits of hearing aids.

Today you have two of us as tour guides, Chelle and Julia! Two guides for the price of one! Today’s exploration is the restaurant…with hearing aids. Does it sound scary to you?  Restaurants are so awful that some hearing aid manufacturers have a dedicated setting called “restaurant”. We’re going to tuck you under our wing so you can observe the process with us. Julia will give us some hearing insight along the way. 

  • Ready?
  • Set?
  • Go!