How can I be considerate of someone with hearing impairment?

If you know that an individual who is deaf reads lips, simply speak normally and make sure he or she has a direct line of sight with your face. Don’t exaggerate your speech or slow it down thinking you’re helping the deaf person read your lips better, because you’re not. It will just confuse him or her. Talk as you normally would and the deaf individual will pick up most of what you say, even though only 30% of the English language is readable on a person’s lips.

Individuals who are born deaf, or who have lost their hearing in a nontraumatic way, present no visible signs that they are deaf or hard of hearing. For this reason deafness is considered a hidden disability; most hearing individuals are unaware of the fact that the person is deaf. Because of this, some people may treat the deaf person inappropriately when the deaf person does not respond to questions or commands.

First of all, you must recognize that someone with hearing impairment doesn't necessarily need your help. You are welcome to be encouraging, considerate, and helpful when asked, but don't be patronizing. For the purpose of helping yourself be a better friend, family member, or coworker, remember the following things. Don't forget that someone is hearing impaired; for instance, don't expect them to hear what you say to them when their backs are turned and don't whisper. In conversation, face the person when you are talking to him or her. Speak clearly and in complete sentences, especially to children who are developing language skills. Make sure that he or she understands what you said. It isn't impertinent to ask someone with hearing impairment to tell you the best way to converse with them so that everyone understands.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.