6 Tips for Communicating With Friends Who Are Hearing Impaired

With one in six Australians are affected by hearing loss no doubt you or someone close to you has experienced this invisible disability to some extent. Many people with hearing loss also struggle with anxiety, social isolation, depression and other mental health concerns.

Julia Gilchrist was born profoundly deaf and says there is a lack of understanding about hearing loss in the community, which means people often don’t know how to effectively communicate with their friends or workmates who are hearing impaired.

Julia says there are simple things people can do – whether it be at work, with friends or in the broader community like in shops and cafes – to minimise the powerfully isolating social effects of hearing loss.

deafimage via pinterest

DO

1. Face the deaf person and get their attention before starting to speak

It’s quite common for people to move around, turn their back or look down to check a text message while continuing to speak to a deaf person. This makes it tricky for the deaf person to keep up, irrespective of whether they speak or sign. If you do this by mistake, be prepared to repeat what you’ve said so the deaf person can contribute to the conversation.


2. Make sure the deaf person knows the topic of conversation

This makes it easier for deaf people to pick up on key words driving the conversation. Let them know when you’re switching to a new topic, especially if you want an opinion on something. If there are multiple things you want to cover, give a deaf person a head start by sending a Facebook message first, highlighting the key information you want to discuss.

3. Reduce background noise

If you’ve invited friends over offer to turn down the TV or iPod, or switch on the DVD captions. Have conversations away from noisy machines, like air conditioning units or coffee machines. If you’re catching up at a café or restaurant pick the table in the corner, not the table in the centre of the room which is surrounded by other people and their overlapping conversations.

4. Keep eye contact, use natural gestures, smile and relax

Eye contact helps to convey the feeling that you are in a direct conversation. The use of natural gestures and body language will help to communicate whatever it is you’re trying to say. Remember that you’re still just chatting to a friend, so smile and relax!

DON’T

1. Shout or over-exaggerate your lip movements

Shouting can be offensive to anyone who has a hearing impairment. Over-exaggerating your lip movements when you speak also distorts your face and mouth, meaning your message gets lost, because your lips cannot be ‘read’ clearly.

2. Get frustrated and give up or say ‘it’s not important’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’

Don’t give up and dismiss the conversation, as you’re actually dismissing the person and that can be very disheartening for a deaf person. Re-phrase what you’re trying to say and respect why they need you to go the extra mile. People who are deaf are often visual learners, so try to demonstrate what you mean to see if that makes a difference.

Julia says the stigma around hearing loss has also had a significant impact on her career. She spent 10 years looking for fulfilling work and a supportive employer – applying for more than 200 jobs and working in 30 roles. Now employed by HCF, Julia says she has finally found an employer that offers her the support and flexibility she needs to be successful in her

Like what you read? Subscribe to our free newsletter for exclusive content and special offers

Related





  • Insta: Follow @rescu.com.au

    • This is my 'Santa I've been very very good' face. Please don't ask me to return the necklace. An evening of true luxury with @laprairie_aus #platinum
    • #happygirl 😜
    • The very best beauty gift offerings for your nearest and dearest. From lux and limited edition, to fun and flirty stocking fillers, we’ve got #giftspo covered.
    • Not sure who I was throwing shade at in this perfectly captured moment 😂😂😂 safe to say I was preparing myself for battle. 💄
    • Forget mistletoe.. our Christmas gift guide edit has everything to jingle his, hers and your own bells. You know where to look. 🎁🎄💥
    • Naturally I have found the ultimate low key outfit inspiration for the party season.. this sequinned jump suit is perfect for a not so silent night... I mean who doesn't want to shimmy and sparkle like a Christmas star? 🎄✨⭐️
    • Got me some holiday glow tips from a former Victoria's Secret Angel and beauty mogul of the moment  @jesshart Exclusive interview on learning to say NO and a cute little how to beauty video #comingsoon @lumacosmetics @moskoscomms ✨✨✨
    • Long wearing. Glow getting. Multi tasking.  And now available in 13 perfectly matched skin shades. Trial team verdict says we've found your perfect summer skin. #beyondperfecting #foundation #concealer #clinique
    • Just the two of us ♥️#summertimefun

  • Get your dose of fabulous delivered to your inbox.

    Sign up for Rescu's newsletter to get updates on top stories, horoscopes, trending videos, and inspirational content.

    SUBSCRIBE NOW!

    Get fashion, beauty, finance, health and love advice from our experts.

    Rescu is an online fashion, beauty and premium lifestyle site. Whether you are looking for fashion, beauty, finance, health and love advice you will find a wealth of information from our resident experts. We publish new content daily so don’t be left behind. Log on daily for the latest fashion, beauty and celebrity news as it happens. Subscribe to our newsletter and enter our contests to win fantastic freebies.