TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH ALDAans

Here are some tips for any person who needs a crash course on how to communicate with late deafened adults!


Only about 30% of sounds can be determined by lip reading. Lip reading is a learned skill and is limited when used alone. Do not assume the person can lip read very well. Make sure to speak clearly at your normal pace.

Get the person’s attention before you communicate.

You can avoid frustration and reduce the need to repeat things by touching their arm, knocking on the table, flashing the lights or waving your hand; then wait for a response. Be sure they are looking at you before you begin to speak.

Do not have objects in your mouth such as gum, cigarettes, or food.

Avoid putting a hand or paper in front of your mouth.

If you wear a mustache, consider trimming it so your lips can be seen easily.

Keep your mouth visible.

The best distance for communication is 3 to 6 feet.

If you speak at a slow-to-normal rate and pause between sentences, you will give the listener time to catch up. (Their mind must process a lot of clues to make up for what they do not hear.)

Encourage questions and clarifications.

These help fill in the blanks and add more information.
Consider learning sign language if your friend or family member starts learning it.
Use facial expression and gestures.

Tell the listener what you are talking about, before beginning your story.
Agree on a gesture or sign that indicates you are starting a new topic.
Give clues when changing the subject.

If one or two words keep tripping someone up, try using a different word.
For example, rephrase DO YOU WANT A DRINK? to WOULD YOU LIKE SOME WATER?
Rephrase when you are not understood.

Shouting makes you look and sound angry.
It actually distorts the sound signal.
It is better to make sure the listener can see you.
If there is some residual hearing, it may help to speak slightly louder than normal,
but not as loud as a shout.
If the hearing is gone, shouting won’t bring it back.
Do not shout.

Keep the competition for the person’s attention to a minimum.  If the late deafened person has some residual hearing, consider background noise as well as background visuals (TV, dishwasher, music, etc.). Ask the host for the quietest table in the restaurant, away from the traffic patterns. Consider going places during off-hours to avoid the crowds (dinner at 4:30 or 8:30, for example). Avoid busy background situations.

It may take more time to learn how best to talk with someone who has lost their hearing. You are both learning how to handle this. Experiment a little. Use humor and smiles. Ask how you can help or what might work better. Be patient, positive and relaxed.

Talk TO the deafened person, not ABOUT him or her to their partner. Remember that a hearing partner does not need to see your face to understand.

Type as much or as little as is needed; you determine if it needs to be every word. Experiment with voice recognition software for the family and closest friends to put captions on your conversations. A computer or laptop can be used when a lot of information needs to be exchanged.

Use it to help with key words, names, numbers and not sentences.
Draw a picture to help communicate.
Always have paper and pencil handy.

They may need your help to find the right volume.
Realize that a deafened person cannot hear his or her own voice.

Use email more because deafness disappears on email.