Help With Hearing a Conversation:
Everyday Tips for Those with Hearing Loss
By Henry Smith
Editor: There are lots of things people with hearing loss can do to
help them understand speech. Here with some great tips and hints is
Henry Smith. Henry is the founder of America Hears.
The purchase of a new hearing aid that can help with hearing
conversation, the television, or the telephone is only the beginning of
the process of aural rehabilitation. By the time you bring your new
hearing aid home, you should have developed an understanding of what it
can do to improve your particular hearing problems, based on your
hearing tests and your discussions with your doctor and/or your hearing
aid dispenser. And, as you now know, your hearing aid is only part of
the long-term solution. There are changes that you can make, and
requests that you can make of others, in order to further improve your
ability to hear conversations on a day to day basis.
General Tips for Those with Hearing Problems
* Before going into any situation, consider the following four
- To whom will you be talking?
- What topics might come up?
- Where will you stand to have the best chance of hearing a
- How will you inform others that you have hearing problems?
* When you are not sure what to say to someone when you are having
trouble hearing, simply explain "I have hearing problems and it
would help me if you would..." and then complete your sentence with
a gentle correction of whatever the other person is doing. For example,
"It would help me if you would speak more slowly," or "It
would help me if you would speak more loudly," or even "It
would help me if you would face me when you speak."
* Don't be passive. If hearing a conversation and understanding what
is being said is unusually difficult, speak up.
* Be polite. Your goal in all cases should be to let the person
speaking to you know that what they are saying is important. And because
it is important, you want to make sure you are hearing the conversation
* Instead of saying "What?" when you don't understand what
you heard, repeat the parts of the statement that you did hear. This
will ensure that the other person will rephrase the statement, giving
you another chance to understand it. For example, ask "What time
did you say your nephew's train comes in?" or "Where did you
say the class is meeting?"
* Learn more about additional assistive devices for your television
or for movies or theater. These can work together with your hearing aid
to help overcome your hearing problems and improve your ability to enjoy
Hearing a Conversation Completely and Accurately
Hearing a conversation with anyone, anywhere - even in a noisy room -
doesn't have to be daunting for someone with hearing problems. With your
properly calibrated hearing aid and the following helpful tips, you can
ease your anxiety and enjoy talking with friends and family.
* Stand where the lighting is good to improve your chances of
understanding a conversation. While you may not realize it, everyone
tends to lip read and study facial cues to better understand someone who
is speaking. Good lighting will increase your ability to interpret these
* Remind people of your hearing problems and mention that they need
to get your attention before beginning to speak to you. Let them know
that by simply saying your name or touching you on the shoulder, they
will give you a great advantage.
* If you are in a noisy or crowded room, ask if the person speaking
with you will move to a quieter area to continue the conversation.
* Don't accept "Whatever" as an answer to your questions.
It should not matter that you have hearing problems -- you have a right
to the important information that you are being told.
On the Telephone
When you are on the telephone with someone new, it is important to
speak up so that you get the most out of hearing the conversation.
* Tell the person you are speaking with that you have hearing
problems and ask him or her to be patient.
* Repeat back to the person the important details of the conversation
to confirm that you heard everything correctly.
Crowded or busy restaurants can present difficulty to someone who has
hearing problems and who is using a hearing aid. But these simple tips
can help alleviate the situation.
* Ask for the quietest table, away from the bar, band, kitchen, or
crowds to give you a better chance of hearing a conversation.
* Try to sit between your guests, keeping closest to the person who
is the quietest speaker.
* When the waiter is telling you the specials, ask him or her to
stand next to you and, if you feel comfortable, explain that you have
hearing problems. You can also request a written copy if that is easier.
* Hearing a conversation can be even more difficult when there is
music in the background. If you find that it is interfering with your
ability to hear others, ask that the volume be turned down. It is likely
that if the level of music is too loud for you, it is probably too loud
Requests You Can Make to Those with Whom You Live
For people with whom you live - family, spouses, or roommates - there
are several requests you can make in order to ensure that you have the
best chance of hearing a conversation in your home.
* Ask them to always face you when they are speaking to improve your
chances of hearing the conversation accurately.
* Ask them to speak slowly and clearly, but not to speak more loudly
than normal, because loud speech can become distorted and actually may
be more difficult to understand for someone with hearing problems.
* Ask them not to chew gum or smoke while they are speaking to you.
These activities can make it more difficult for you to read facial cues.
* Above all, ask them for patience. They love you and they will
Armed with these tips and a hearing aid that has been properly fitted
and calibrated for your needs, you should find your hearing problems are
greatly diminished and you're your quality of life has improved
About the Author
Henry Smith is the founder of America Hears, a leading manufacturer
and distributor of hearing aids online for over 26 years. Henry started
the company in 1979, following a 15-year career at the Pennsylvania
School of the Deaf, including his work as an Acoustic Technician. Henry
is a pioneer in the use of computers and the Internet to allow customers
to have a hands-on approach to the tuning and adjusting of their digital
hearing aids. He strives to be customer-centric in all aspects of his