Now that the new year is well underway, give a thought to those friends living with hearing loss. Hearing loss is largely invisible, easily misunderstood and quickly forgotten by others. Maybe 2016 is the year you make it easier for those friends. Here are three simple things you can do to help the people around you who live with hearing loss
#1—Consciously Turn Toward Your Friend When Speaking
Turning toward your conversation partner is a visible communication cue that actually works well for those with and without hearing loss. Turning toward the person you are speaking to lets them see you form words with your mouth as you also signal your intentions with your eyes, face and posture. Turning toward someone when speaking also communicates their value and the importance of the communication.
Restaurants are notoriously loud. They are loud because the chatter, clatter and music seem to create a cheery vibe. But noisy restaurants can be difficult for those with hearing loss. Finding quieter venues is a first step when planning an outing with a friend with hearing loss. There may also be quieter places even in noisy restaurants: places with more sound-absorbing fabrics and less reflective surfaces. Your friend will appreciate your help in keeping them in the conversation.
#3—Stay In Conversation
Those with hearing loss can feel isolated at times. There are stresses and strains with not hearing clearly, and lots of mental activity with trying to catch words that sound less than clear. Sometimes the easiest route is to not interact at all. Be the friend who works to include them in conversations and encourages them to participate when they’re comfortable.