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Listening tactics

Even with the best hearing aid, some situations may still be very difficult. Here are a number of things you can do to make it easier to understand what people are saying.

  • Try telling others about your hearing loss and how they can help you to follow what they are saying.
  • Ask people to speak clearly, but not to shout;
  • Be clear about your communication needs from the start. This will make the conversation easier for the other person too;
  • Face the person speaking and ask them to face you;
  • 3-6 feet is the ideal distance from the person speaking. Your hearing aid has only a small microphone, so the closer you are to the sound you are listening to, the better;
  • Ensure you can see their expression clearly, try to make sure that the light is falling on their face;
  • Make use of what you can see as well as what you can hear. Gestures, facial expression and mouth movements can give you helpful clues to the meaning of what someone is saying;
  • If necessary, ask the speaker to slow down and remind them to face you and speak clearly;
  • Encourage people to make a point of letting you know when they are introducing a new topic of conversation - and what the subject is;
  • It may be helpful to use questions with yes/no answers to confirm information (e.g. 'Did you say 4 o'clock?' rather than 'Did you say 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock?');
  • Try to keep calm, and don't panic; and don't be afraid to ask people to repeat or rephrase what they said;
  • Thank other people if they are helpful.


Telephone strategies

Remember that when people ring you up, they want to speak to you and so it is in their interest to make it easier for you to hear them. Now that you can hear better, remind your friends that they have no need to shout, but that they should try speaking a little more slowly.

If the caller is a stranger, do explain to them that you have some hearing difficulties or that you use a hearing aid and if you’re not sure what someone has said :-

i)             Ask them to repeat the sentence.

ii)            Ask them to say the sentence in a different way.

iii)           Ask them to spell important words.

iv)           Ask them to say the alphabet and stop at the correct letter.

v)            If it’s a number or a date, ask them to count from No. 1 and stop at the correct date.

vi)           Always repeat back the information you have heard to be sure it’s correct.

If you sometimes miss phone calls, rather than having an answering machine which can have indifferent message playback quality, an answering service such as BT 1571 Answer,which isfree, will allow you to hear callers’ messages via the phone earpiece, so they will sound as clear as if you were speaking to that person.

However, the Paragon 450 telephone answering machine also features 2-way Record, which allows you to record both sides of the conversation and then replay it as often as you need to understand clearly what has been said. This can be particularly useful when you are being given instructions or directions.

Finally, and this is most important, callers should not speak directly into the mouthpiece of their phone but should, instead, hold the mouthpiece below their bottom lip, in front of, not below, their chin.

Modern mouthpieces are very sensitive and speaking too close to them causes speech to be distorted and ‘breathy’, whereas, with the mouthpiece shielded by the bottom lip, only the speech is picked up.

And, of course, you should do the same when talking to your friends!