Hearing impairment can be a major disability, albeit an invisible one. While a number of assistive treatments and listening devices are commonly available, hearing aids are the best and the most popular tools used to mitigate much of the hearing loss caused by damage to sensory cells of the inner ear. Hearing aids may be of many types and may be visible or fitted into the ear of the person with hearing loss (making them difficult to spot).
It is, however, important that we make all possible efforts to communicate effectively with people using hearing aids, once we are made aware of their condition. This is a great step in promoting inclusivity in our schools, educational institutions, work places, and in society in general. Here are some of the steps we can take to make effective communication possible with hearing aid users –
- Create an inclusive culture where hearing aid users are not shy to reach out and communicate with the organisation. This could mean developing an organisational culture where disability of any sort is not viewed as a weakness. In the waiting area or office space, it is best to display any pertinent information on a large screen and encourage hearing aid users to reach out.
- Many hearing aid users additionally use lip reading as a tool to compensate for their hearing loss. This means that the lighting in your school, office, or showroom needs to be adequate, allowing them to read facial expressions and body language. Remove face masks or shields when trying to communicate with anyone who uses a hearing aid.
- In medical settings such as hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ chambers, it is best to make spare hearing aid batteries available. This can help hearing aid users with low or dead batteries find a solution to what could turn into a potentially difficult situation.
- If you are communicating with a hearing aid user, it is important to understand that they may not be able to pick up all sounds and may continue to favour one ear. This makes it important to check if they are at a comfortable distance, if the acoustics of the room are favourable for them. Speak clearly and slowly but refrain from being too loud. Being loud may be counter productive in the case of a hearing aid user.
- If feasible, it could be worth training a member of the staff or a member of your organisation in sign language. This could help with interpretation in case of a hearing aid failure.
In the interest of seamless communication, it is important to prompt anyone who can be benefited from a hearing aid to use one. The taboo or embarrassment of using a hearing aid can be removed only if the people around the user makes him/her comfortable. Hearing aid prices in India are relatively low and this makes them quite affordable. They can also be ordered online through medical device stockists such as Smart Medical Buyer. https://www.smartmedicalbuyer.com/collections/widex-hearing-aid-batteries