How to communicate with someone with hearing impairment

The RNID (Royal National Institute For The Deaf) have an excellent website full of information and advice. Here’s a great example of their really useful content, some tips for communicating with a person who is deaf or who has hearing impairment.

People who are deaf or have hearing loss have individual communication needs and you should ask someone how best you can communicate with them. Not every tip below will be appropriate for every person who is deaf or has hearing loss.

Communication tips

Re-phrase what you said

If someone doesn’t understand you, repeat what you said or phrase it differently, use plain language.

Face the person you’re speaking to

Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly – avoid shouting, speaking too fast or unnecessarily slow.

Ask for the person’s communication preferences

Always ask what each person’s preferences are and if they need communication support. For example, even if someone’s using a hearing aid, ask if they need to lipread you.

Use an interpreter

You should always follow the advice of the person with communication needs. If that’s booking an interpreter or speaking to a friend or relative.

Write it down

Use pen on paper, text on device screens, or whiteboards to write what you want to say.

Get their full attention

Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention.

Reduce background noise

In a noisy place, move to a quieter area if possible.

Speak clearly

Speak clearly and not too slowly. Use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures.

Find the right place

For longer chats, find a place to talk with good lighting, away from noise and distractions.

Speak at an appropriate volume

Keep your voice down: it’s uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout, and it can look and feel aggressive.

Get to the point

Use plain language and don’t waffle.

Make it easy for people to lipread

Don’t cover your mouth when speaking. (If you’re wearing a mask, pull it down to speak but keep a distance).