‘Tis the season for tinsel, garland and an endless onslaught of holiday music. Whether you’re traveling over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house or hosting your own get-together right here in Charleston, chances are your plans include at least one fancy holiday meal. If you’ll have a guest with hearing loss visiting, make them feel welcome by incorporating a few communication strategies to improve their experience.
Here’s Ho-Ho-How to Make Hearing Impaired Guests Welcome
For the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, the holidays can be difficult. Those who struggle to hear often feel excluded from the festivities, even if unintentionally. In order to make the season merry and bright for your guest with hearing loss, follow these three tips.
Create the right environment for your hearing-impaired guests
A candlelit table and festive holiday music are surefire ways to get you into the holiday spirit, but they serve as obstacles for people with hearing loss. Many of these individuals rely on facial cues and lip-reading to help them follow conversations and communicate more effectively; dim lighting prevents them seeing clearly.
Background noise can make it difficult to hear, especially around a crowded table where there are multiple people speaking. Making sure there is adequate lighting and the music is played softly will go a long way toward helping your guests enjoy the gathering. Seat them in a quiet corner away from the noise and distraction of the kitchen and, if you’re watching football or a holiday parade on TV, keep the volume turned down.
Include everybody in the conversation
If your guests with poor hearing are acting quiet or appear uncomfortable, don’t take it personally. Those with hearing loss often feel left out of the conversation or experience what is known as “listening fatigue” when trying to keep up with what everybody is saying. Direct questions their way to make them feel included, but don’t push too hard; if they still seem reluctant to talk, respect their wishes and let them set the pace.
Refine your speech technique
Speaking to people with hearing loss requires a different approach. For starters, be sure to face the person directly when talking to them, in case they rely on facial cues or lip-reading. Likewise, avoid covering your mouth and chewing. Don’t hold a conversation from another room, where they won’t be able to see your mouth or lips!
Speak slowly and clearly, resisting the urge to over enunciate or shout. If your guest is having trouble understanding what you have said, don’t repeat yourself or raise your voice; try rephrasing what you have said choosing different words or phrases that convey the same meaning. Hearing-impaired individuals often struggle with certain consonant and vowel sounds, such as “s/h/f.”
These steps will help ensure a happy holiday get-together for everybody gathered in your home during the holiday season. For more tips on communicating with hearing-impaired individuals, contact an audiologist in Charleston.
Learn about Hearing Loss and Communication:
- Helpful Hearing Apps for Smartphone Users
- Tips for Traveling with Hearing Loss
- Can Surgery Reverse Hearing Loss?
Our NE South Carolina Area Audiologists Office Locations
5000 Epson Plantation Dr
Moncks Corner, SC 29461
2005 2nd Avenue
Summerville, SC 29486