Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH)



Tips for friends of the hard of hearing:

A hearing loss can cause isolation if people with hearing loss and those surrounding them permit it.

Many people who are hard of hearing wear hearing aids, and many people who are profoundly deaf wear aids or a cochlear implant. Keep in mind that some do not use and cannot benefit from these devices.

Remember that a hearing aid is just an aid to hearing, an electronic device for amplifying sound. It does not restore normal hearing. It amplifies sound - all sound (noise as well as speech). Consequently, the person with a hearing loss has to learn to filter out the noise and discriminate what is being said. This process takes time, patience, practice and perseverance.

Face the person and have the light on your face (in your eyes.)

Eliminate background noise as much as possible (i.e. TV, radio). Move from the noisiest room to the quieter room.

Don't hide your mouth with your hand or an object. (Think about trimming that mustache and beard so your lips are easier to read.)

Rephrase a misunderstood sentence rather than continuing to repeat the same sentence. Change the way you say it, not just volume and pace. (Rephrasing can be just about anything: If you don't hear: It's really cold outside, rephrase it to say: It is so chilly! Or if you don't hear it's 5:30, say half past five.)

Write down important information and directions to be sure they are understood.

When traveling in a car, remember listening is difficult. Look at the person to the degree safety allows.

When going out to dinner, choose a quiet restaurant that is well lit, where the noise is not intolerable. Request a table in a corner, or one away from music speakers. Suggest that the person with hearing loss sit against the wall to minimize background sound.

Large groups are difficult for people with hearing loss. People interrupt one another, conversation overlaps and it is difficult to locate the person speaking in order to speechread and get visual clues that clarify discussion. Include the person with hearing loss in small groups where communication is less of a strain. When the group is large, take the time to clue the person who is deaf or hard of hearing into the conversation, the punchline, the context; assist the person when topics change.


Remember: a hearing loss can happen to anyone at any point in our lives. It can complicate a variety of everyday experiences. However, the challenges are not insurmountable, and the rewards of good communication are many. Everyone likes to be faced when spoken to, receive undivided attention, and be treated with kindness!

Our thanks go to:
The League for the Hard of Hearing.
Ms. Ilene D. Miner, CSW, ACSW and
Mr. Jeff Wax, CSWR
We like to acknowledge ABC Publications for the excerpt on "Tips".