Hearing Impaired persons have special requirements which optimizes their communication experience.
There are three main types of hearing loss:
1. Conductive Deafness - This is on account of disease/ discontinuity in the External and Middle ear - from the Pinna to the entrance to the Inner Ear
2. Sensorineural Deafness - These are related to problems in the Inner Ear ( Cochlea- Sensory) or the Acoustic Nerve (Auditory Nerve - Neural).
3. Mixed Deafness - Arises out of a combination of both of the above.
A patient of Conductive Deafness can be treated with medicines, simple procedures (like wax removal) or a surgery (like repair of the eardrum). The hearing loss is not complex and a simple amplification will make them hear better.
A patient with a Sensorineural Deafness has a more complex hearing requirement.
In the Sensory type of deafness, there is a phenomenon of Recruitment- that is, initial sounds are heard less, but as the amplitude increases the ear 'recruits' and more and more of the sound is heard - this makes amplification difficult and complex. These are the category of persons who will tell you not to shout when you try to talk loudly to them.
You must bear in mind that a hearing impaired person is otherwise of normal intelligence and as a compensation their other skills are better developed.
So for an effective communication with a hearing impaired person, kindly bear the following in mind
1. Sit/ stand in front of the person
2. Make sure there is light on your face - your face should not be in the dark
3. Speak with your lips clearly enunciating the sound - if necessary exaggerate your lip movement to make out the sound
4. Speak clearly and do not mumble
5. Talk a little loudly but do not shout
6. Use supportive gestures and actions to accentuate your point
7. As far as possible avoid competing sounds - like a radio or TV playing in the background
Remember that the hearing impaired person is like you or I - loves communication just like all of us - take the effort to make it more meaningful for him. Do not avoid talking to him/ her because you are unsure whether they will hear you or not - use the guide mentioned above and you will get on just fine.
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