With the festive season just around the corner many people are gearing up to attend a variety of parties and social functions; and while parties are a great way to socialise, relax and just have a good time, often, they are also excessively noisy.
Difficulties hearing in background noise is the number one complaint from people presenting with hearing loss, making party situations, and the festive season a less enjoyable one. Often their difficulties hearing in these environments can lead to miscommunication, misunderstandings and at times, people will simply avoid attending because of their communication difficulties.
Hearing aids have come a long way in improving speech understanding in background noise, with many having automatic features to effortlessly detect different types of noisy situations and provide noise reduction, microphone changes and speech enhancement within these environments. Despite this, hearing aids will never be able to cut out all noise, particularly in those very noisy environments, and when trying to communicate at a distance.
Technology can and will help people hear better in noisy situations, but the use of communication, strategies can ensure that people with a hearing loss are getting the most out of these situations. Some strategies that can be implemented include:
1. Visual cues
Always look at the person and encourage the person you are speaking to, to look at you when speaking. A lot of extra information can be gathered by a person’s mouth, face and body language helping to fill in any gaps that may be missed by hearing alone.
2. Know your environment
Try to pick quieter environments with soft furnishings and floorings. Hard surfaces increase the reverberation of sound, making it harder to hear in these situations. When going to a restaurant/pub seat yourself with your back to the noise, and if you can, ask to be seated in the area with the least amount of noise.
Try to position yourself so that the person you are speaking to is in the light. The better lighting will allow better use of all those important visual cues.
4. Repair strategies
If you have missed part of what someone is saying, ask them to repeat by clarification, ‘eg did you say……?’, this will allow for only the words that you have missed to be repeated, taking the strain off your ears and memory.
5. Be realistic!
Even the best hearing aids and communication tactics will not allow you to hear a person on the other side of the restaurant, or when there are many people talking at once. And remember, even people without hearing loss can struggle to hear in these situations, so don’t let it get you down if you don’t get every word in the conversation.