This month is Better Hearing and Speech Month! Since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has dedicated the month of May to raising awareness about hearing and speech disorders, and the importance of clear communication. The theme for this year is Communication at Work. As Americans across the country are sheltering at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever before that we find ways to communicate clearly, both in person and online.
Facts about Hearing Loss
Do you have hearing loss? Around 50 million Americans of all ages struggle to hear clearly and communicate easily. Many do not realize they have hearing loss, or choose to ignore the signs of hearing loss. Here are a few facts about hearing loss to put things into perspective.
- Among adults between the ages of 20 to 69, approximately 15% have hearing loss.
- 10% of Americans have experienced tinnitus in the past year.
- 2 or 3 of every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss in either one or both ears.
- Men are more likely to have hearing loss than women.
- Only 1 in 5 people who need hearing aids actually wear them.
The Importance of Communication
Communication is extremely important, and we all communicate in a variety of ways. You may wave to your neighbor across the street, say hello to a friend at the store, or call a family member on the phone. You also have long conversations with your family at home, and chat with coworkers at the office. All these forms of communication are important for a great quality of life. If communication breaks down you’ll soon feel the negative effects, such as social isolation, anxiety, stress, and even depression.
Tips for Communicating at Home
If you’re struggling to hear, scheduling a hearing test and getting fitted for hearing aids will help you communicate effectively. When you’re at home, follow these tips for communicating.
- Ask your loved ones to face you when speaking, so that you can watch their facial expressions or read their lips.
- Ask your family to get your attention before they start talking to you, so you’re focusing on them from the moment they start speaking.
- If you’re having a family discussion, ask people to take turns speaking, and avoid interrupting each other. This will help you hear the speaker, and concentrate on what’s being said.
- Keep background music low, or turn it off. If you want to have a conversation at home, turn off the TV or radio, and give yourself the best chance of hearing what’s being said.
- Turn on some lights. Communication is easier if you can see clearly, so have conversations in brightly lit rooms.
Tips for Communicating at Work
If you have hearing loss, communicating at work can be a bit more challenging. Remember that you have every right to ask for accommodations from your coworkers and your employer. Make sure you present them with clear solutions, and they’ll be happy to do their part in helping you hear.
- Ask to sit near the speaker during meetings, or at a place where you can see everyone’s faces clearly.
- Ask for an outline of the meeting before it starts, so you can easily keep up with the topics being discussed.
- Ask for the meeting notes following a meeting, and review them to make sure you didn’t miss anything important.
- Install speech-to-text technology on your computer, so that you can read everything that people are saying during the meeting.
- If your desk is near a high-traffic area, ask to be moved to a quieter spot where it’s easier to concentrate on work, or hear conversations on the phone.
- If you’ve been working from home, ask for information and instructions in writing, and use speech-to-text technology to help you hear during video or audio calls.
My Hearing Centers
Join us in celebrating Better Speech and Hearing Month, and make sure you’re communicating clearly at home, at work, and online. Schedule a hearing test this month to find out if you have hearing loss, or get a baseline hearing test so you can easily monitor your hearing health in the future. Don’t ignore the warning signs of hearing loss, and book your hearing test today.