Things to consider when speaking to a person with hearing loss

  1. Wait until the person can see you and is looking at you before speaking. The person cannot lip/speech read you unless they are looking at you. Make eye contact with the person. Then begin to speak.
  2. Never speak directly into the person’s ear. Speaking into the ear prevents any attempt to speech read. Speaking into the ear does not make the sound clearer.
  3. Try to position yourself about three to six feet from the person when speaking to him/her. Too close or too far and the deaf person has a more difficult time seeing you clearly.
  4. Speak at your normal rate and use appropriate hand gestures and facial expressions. Speaking slower distorts your speech and makes it more difficult to speech read.
  5. Avoid chewing, eating or covering your mouth with your hands while speaking. These activities make speech reading much more difficult if not impossible.
  6. Do not exaggerate your words when speaking. Exaggerating your words distorts them and makes speech reading impossible.
  7. Give clues when changing subjects. Simple things like telling the new subject make it easier for the deaf person to follow the conversation. Pointing to the speaker as different people talk in a group also facilitates communication.
  8. Be aware of lighting. If the lighting is not on the deaf person’s face, it should make it easier to speech read or understand sign language. If the deaf person has to look into bright light to “catch” the conversation, it will be difficult to maintain that view for a long time.
  9. Choose a quiet site for communication. Hearing aids amplify ALL sounds. In a noisy environment, a person with a hearing aid is easily confused and frustrated. Also, a busy area is “noisy” visually to the deaf person using sign language. It makes it more difficult to focus on the conversation. 
  10. Rephrase your statement into shorter, simpler sentences. Think of other ways to say what you want. If the deaf person does not understand the first way, rephrase it and give him/her some other words to speech read.

This information was distributed by Maggie Smedley. You can read more from the handout by clicking here.

Turn it down!

Turn down the volume on your iPod while you read this:

One in five adolescents now suffers from hearing loss – a 30% jump from two decades ago. The loss is mild, but it means more teens are hearing only about as well as a typical 40- to 60- year old.

Playing music too loud is partly to blame, experts believe. To avoid damage to your hearing, keep these numbers in mind:

  • 60 You can listen all day if you keep the volume at 60% of the max.
  • 80 for 90 You can boost the volume to 80% for 90 minutes a day.
  • 100 If you want to crank up the volume as high as it’ll go, keep it short – just five minutes a day.

If your ears ring or “feel full” after listening, the volume was too high

taken from Reader’s Digest, November 2010

How Loud is Too Loud?

Levels of hearing loss

Normal Hearing: 0-20 dB

Mild Hearing loss: 20-40 dB

Moderate Hearing loss: 40-60 dB

Severe Hearing loss: 60-90 dB

Profound Hearing loss: 90-120 dB

How Loud is Too Loud:

90 Decibels: prolonged exposure to any noise above 90 dB can cause gradual hearing loss.

100 Decibels: no more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure recommended.

110 Decibels: regular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss.

Are you hurting your hearing?

0 dB -Threshold of normal hearing

20 dB -Whispered voice

40 dB -Refrigerator humming

60 dB -Normal conversation

80 dB -City traffic

90 dB -Lawn mower, Motorcycle

100 dB -Wood Shop

110 dB -Chain saw

120 dB -Snowmobiles

140 dB -Rock Concerts, Firecrackers