Talking to someone with hearing loss
Tips That Can Help
Make sure the person with hearing loss can see your face.
- Stand or sit 3 to 6 feet (90 to 180 centimeters) away.
- Position yourself so the person you are talking to can see your mouth and gestures.
- Talk in a room where there is enough light for the person with hearing loss to see these visual clues.
- While talking, do not cover your mouth, eat, or chew on anything.
Find a good environment for the conversation.
- Reduce the amount of background noise by turning off the TV or radio.
- Choose a quiet area of a restaurant, lobby, or office where there is less activity and noise.
Make an extra effort to include the person in a conversation with others.
- Never talk about a person with hearing loss as if they are not there.
- Let the person know when the topic has changed.
- Use the person's name so they know you are speaking to them.
Say your words slowly and clearly.
- You can speak louder than normal, but do not shout.
- Do not exaggerate your words because this may distort how they sound and make it harder for the person to understand you.
- If the person with hearing loss does not understand a word or phrase, choose a different one rather than repeating it.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Hearing loss and older adults.
Walker LK. Patients with disabilities. In: Ritsema TS, Brown DL, Vetrosky DT, et al, eds. Ballweg's Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice. 7th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2022:chap 54.
Last reviewed on: 6/6/2021
Reviewed by: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.