If you are dealing with hearing loss, then you have to change your routine a little, learning new ways of doing things. If you are close to someone dealing with hearing loss, then you too should learn to do a few things differently.

When speaking to a hearing-impaired person a few new habits will make communication better for everyone.

The first doesn’t have to do with sound, but rather with sight. A clear sightline between speaker and listener, especially a hard-of-hearing listener, can be the most important step to take. There’s actually a lot of visual information communicated in conversation and, when hearing is degraded, it becomes even more important that this part of conversing be fully functioning.

So, yelling from another room or talking from behind the person is not going to turn out well.

Other small things that will help include making sure background noise is at a minimum, moving out of a loud room, not waving arms while talking (it’s a distraction from the face), and not eating or smoking while trying to converse.

Starting a conversation by asking if a person finds one ear is easier to hear with than the other is a nice touch. Giving the person time to prepare for conversation is helpful as well, as the on/off switch moves a little slower for the hearing impaired. This is because they might not hear the preliminary sounds when someone is trying to get their attention.

When speaking, do so clearly, using good diction. Don’t shout or talk unnaturally — this just throws off normal visual cues. Simply talk a little slower than normal and concentrate on clarity and maintaining visual contact.