- Be proactive whenever possible:
• explain your disability or needs beforehand when you anticipate difficulty. This includes people on the phone, the bank teller, cashier at a store, restaurant personnel, etc.
• in a restaurant, choose your location/request a quiet table away from noise.
• start the conversation to gain some control
- Be knowledgeable:
• encourage the speaker to help you by:
• slowing down
• speaking more clearly
• using different words. Ex. Would you like a seat? Seat could sound like sweet or fleet. Change it by asking “Would you like to sit on this chair?
• using more words. Instead of saying “I like that,” be more specific and say “I like that picture with flowers.”
• moving away from background lighting or noise
• looking towards you when speaking with no obstructions.
• waiting until the noise is gone or others stop talking or laughing before speaking.
• writing the message down
- Incorporate a “conversation” style to make it easier for the speaker. Most of the time we miss only a few words, but we miss the main idea. Examples:
a) (Critical Meaning). She didn’t want to go. It is easy for a HOH to miss the n’t. Clarify the meaning by asking the question with a different word. “Does that mean she is going or she is not going.
b) (Name is missing). Terry said they are going to Europe. Often a HOH will miss the first word in a sentence. Ask “who is going to Europe this summer?”
c) (Too short/too little info) That was a great movie. Say “Tell me more” Get additional info, not a repeat of the sentence.
d) (Possibly sensitive information). He cried. Often words sound similar. Cried and died are a pair. Check out the info. “I am not sure I heard you correctly. Did you say he died?” Better for the speaker to laugh and say “Oh, no, no. I said “He cried’, than for the speaker to have to repeat bad news.
e) (Too much info given/getting confused) Long story. Instead of having the person repeat all the information, say, “Excuse me, I missed a lot of what you said. Could you summarize the main points for me?” or “Could you email me the article you are referring to?”
- Be patient with the person who is trying to help or from whom you are seeking help. That person has to learn to interact with us and we have to teach them.
- Try to make it easy for the speaker: encourage the speaker to help you by identifying what you missed or by repeating what you heard and asking them to fill in. Ask the speaker “Yes-no” questions.
- Ask for a paraphrase rather than a repeat of the information.
- Be upfront about your hearing needs (re: noise, traffic, too many speakers at once) Turn the obstacle into a specific need: “I need quiet/one speaker at a time, music turned down, slower and clearer…etc.”
Author: Flo Spratt