1. Levels of deafness vary, from 20dB (mild) hearing loss to 90dB (very profound) loss. Be aware that people who are hard of hearing may still be able to hear what you are saying, however the sound may seem quiet or distorted. As a result of this, they may have trouble in differentiating words that sound similar, but look the same. Examples of this are: ‘fifteen’ and ‘fifty’. If you find yourself agreeing a time, price or quantity – or any other piece of important information ensure that they repeat it back to you, and are clear in their understanding of the conversation. There may always be some misunderstanding in conversations, so to prevent negative feelings be understanding and patient.
2. Ensure that the person speaking is well lit, and that you are facing each other throughout the conversation. By facing the person you are speaking to, it allows them to better understand what it is that you are saying. Not only will they pay more attention to the words that you’re saying, but they will also have the opportunity to lip read and speech read, as well as interpret your facial expressions. By ensuring that your face is well lit, each movement your speech makes, the other person will be able to read.
3. Those that have hearing should change their manner of speech slightly when they know that the person they are talking to are deaf. Speak in a normal fashion, but refer from speaking too quickly, or rushing particular words. Avoiding complex sentences and pausing after each sentence will make your speech a lot easier to process. Also, keep items and your hands away from your mouth, unless you aim to assist your meaning by the use of your hands. By touching your mouth or face during speech without thinking, you could be confusing the person watching you, and it will make your speech harder to understand.
4. If a deaf person could not understand the meaning of something a hearing person has said, instead of repeating the same thing, the hearing person should reword the original sentence to try to convey the meaning with different words. This can be an issue as many words look the same, and when trying to discuss a new concept difficult sounds may be misinterpreted.
5. Avoid having conversations near loud noises, and reduce all background noise where possible for the duration of the conversation. This will ensure your communication partner can concentrate on the conversation, and can be as simple as muting a radio or television.
People that are deaf can often become frustrated that they cannot understand what people around them are saying. If their communication partner is trying to tell them something, but cannot effectively do so, it can also become frustrating. The tips listed here are simple; however by using them it can change the success of every conversation and make the experience for both parties a better one.