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Communication pitfalls for the hard of hearing

When you’re hard of hearing, one of the worst experiences is when you and the person on the other side of the counter or desk are trying to get the messages through.

It makes for another challenging day for those who are hard of hearing and for the person trying to communicate with you.

Your Way | Kia Roha Hearing Therapy is a national service providing personalised communication support, community education and awareness programmes to improve the quality of life for who are hard of hearing.  It is funded by Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People and delivered by Your Way | Kia Roha (Life Unlimited Charitable Trust).

Hearing manager David Darling said the team developed a poster and a desk sign for organisations, businesses and retailers so they are aware of what to do when a person who is hard of hearing comes to see them. It is also something a person who is hard of hearing, could show the person on the other side of the counter.

“Our research shows people with hearing issues want better-trained staff and visual alerts. Walking out of stores or businesses, for example, is quite common because the music’s too loud, or you cannot communicate

“We have some general suggestions for talking face-to-face with a person who is hard of hearing and that’s why we have produced this free resource.

“If you yourself are hard of hearing, communicating can be difficult, especially if the person you are talking to doesn’t know what to do. It’s worth remembering that many people who shy away from talking with you are just nervous of making a mistake or offending you,” says Mr Darling.

“There are many ways for all of us to improve communication.

“If you are hard of hearing, it’s a good idea to tell people the best way to talk with you. In most cases, they will appreciate your direct approach,” he said.

Tips to communicate better with people who are hard of hearing include:

  • Make sure you have the person’s attention. This could include saying their name, getting into their line of vision, waving at them, or touching them on the shoulder.
  • A person who is hard of hearing needs to see your face when having a conversation. Make sure your face is well lit. Don’t stand in front of a window, for example, because the back-light shadows your face.
  • If necessary, move to a quieter location.
  • Always allow the person to see your face directly. For example, don’t look around or drop your head, don’t eat, and don’t cover your face with your hand.
  • Keep eye contact. Don’t talk to a person if they are walking away from you, or as you walk out of the door or from another room.

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