Junior Board

How to Have a Better Conversation with Someone with Hearing Loss

All of us with hearing loss know how hard it can sometimes be to converse comfortably with our friends and family. We get tired, frustrated and sometimes just tune out. But it is hard on those that love us as well. They don’t like to see us struggle or be unhappy; and they can get annoyed that we don’t understand what they are saying. Today’s post is for them. Please share these tips with your friends and family and enjoy better conversations!


The first step in having better conversations is for our friends and family to understand how those of us with hearing loss actually hear. The best way I know to explain it, is as a game board from Wheel of Fortune. Some of the letters are filled in, others are blank. The contestant (or listener in this case) is trying to make sense of the assorted and incomplete sounds he or she is hearing and turn these sounds into a word or phrase that makes sense in the context of the conversation.

It is also useful to point out that hearing aids don’t work like glasses. Glasses, by bending light through a curved lens, can transform an image that is blurry and distorted into something crisp and clear. So if you wear glasses, in most cases, you can see just like someone with typical vision, or pretty darn close. With hearing aids, this is not the case. Hearing aids are helpful in amplifying sounds, but this just makes them louder, not necessarily crisper or clearer. Most people with hearing loss can hear that someone is talking to them; they just can’t understand what words are being said. The clarity is not there.

Hearing aids also have a tough time differentiating among sounds so that the background noise (i.e., the hum of the refrigerator or the air conditioner) is amplified in addition to the more important sounds of the conversation. This can actually make it harder to hear in certain situations!


So, with that as background, here are our tips for having more satisfying conversations with someone who has hearing loss. Please share your tips and ideas in the comments.

1.  Provide Context Before and When Speaking: Context makes it easier to fill in the blank spaces of the words on the Wheel of Fortune game board. If all you hear is “__oot,” knowing if the conversation is about owls (hoot) or a robbery (loot) or musical instruments (flute) is a big help!

2.  Get Their Attention Before Speaking: Hearing takes concentration for those with hearing loss, so make sure they are ready and are paying attention. Talking to them before they are ready will have them playing catch-up and make it harder for them to understand the context of the conversation.

3.  Make Sure They Can See Your Lips: Lip-reading is helpful in filling in the blanks of what is not heard. I always tell people I can’t hear you if I can’t see you. See Shari's post, I Can’t Hear in the Dark, for more on this. Don’t cover your mouth with your hands and make sure that you are well-lit.

4.  Enunciate Clearly and Speak at a Steady Rate: Remember that volume is only part of the problem. Clarity of the sounds is really key. Speak your words clearly, and try to maintain a regular pace of speech. Rapid speech is very difficult to follow since all that brain processing time is condensed, while slower than typical speech will look weird on the lips and make lip-reading less useful.

5.  Be Aware of The Surroundings: Background noise is a problem, so try to avoid it if you can. Turn off the A/C or at least turn the fan down to low. Don’t play music in the background. Pick a quieter restaurant or request a corner booth. A quiet and well-lit spot always works best.

6.  Take Turns Speaking: If there are multiple people in the conversation, it is important that only one person speaks at a time and that each speaker makes the effort to face the person who has trouble hearing.

7.  Be Prepared to Repeat or Rephrase: Get ready for hearing, “What?,” at least a couple of times during the conversation. Try not to get frustrated, but simply repeat what you have said. If the person does not get it the second time, try rephrasing your thought using different words that might be easier for him or her to hear. Or spell a word that is giving a particularly hard time. Often knowing the first few letters of a word can help to connect the dots.

8.  Keep Your Sense of Humor:  Hey, it can be frustrating, I know. But remember the goal is to connect with one another, so why not laugh at the misunderstandings. It is better than the alternative.

Readers, what tips do you have for improving conversations with someone with hearing loss?

Shari is the Chairman of  HHF's Board of Directors and founder of the blog, Living With Hearing Loss

Thank you Greg F. for these great ideas. Greg is a member of Hearing Health Foundation‘s National Junior Board and is working on a mobile phone app to help those of us with hearing loss find quiet spots in NYC.  

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HHF's National Junior Board Raises Over $60,000 at 2nd Annual A Summer Soiree Event

By Tara Guastella

HHF Board Chair Shari Eberts presents Partner for Hearing Health award to Regal's Chris Chromey-Marquis

HHF Board Chair Shari Eberts presents Partner for Hearing Health award to Regal's Chris Chromey-Marquis

This past Monday night, HHF’s National Junior Board hosted its second annual “A Summer Soiree” event to benefit a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus. Held at the restaurant Ainsworth Park in New York City, nearly 200 attendees enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, raffles, and a fun photo booth. The event raised more than $60,000, a portion of which will be allocated to naming an Emerging Research Grant.


Regal Entertainment Group was presented with the annual Partner for Hearing Health Award for its commitment to people living with hearing impairment. Regal is dedicated to providing solutions for hearing impaired movie-goers and showcased a pair of newly released closed captioning glasses at the event.

HHF CEO Claire Schultz provided remarks at the event and shared her enthusiastic support of the Junior Board members. “It was so encouraging to see such a fantastic turnout at the Soiree and the interest in our work to cure hearing loss and tinnitus,” says Schultz. “I am thrilled to continue working with the Junior Board to further our mission.”

ACS Customs, a provider of custom-fit hearing protection and in-ear monitors for musicians, was also present and provided custom earmolds for attendees.

National Junior Board President Michael Kolodny also spoke before the crowd. “Hearing research is very important to my family since my daughter was born with bilateral hearing loss and currently wears cochlear implants,” he says. “I am so encouraged by the groundbreaking research that HHF funds and I am excited to support the cause of preventing and curing hearing loss and tinnitus.”

HHF appreciates the support from Regal as well as additional event sponsors UBS, Advanced Bionics, Legendary Pictures, Macquarie Capital, ACS, Blue Moon, and DASHA Wellness.

View more event photos on our Facebook page.

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#GivingTuesday Shines in Its Second Year

By Tara Guastella

Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, the official kickoff to the holiday giving season.  After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, I am glad to finally see a day in honor of charitable giving!

In its second year, Giving Tuesday seemed much larger and more diverse than last year with a wide range of charities devising unique ways to raise funds. According to one report, donations nearly doubled compared with last year.

I have been looking forward to Giving Tuesday since July. Yet over the past week or so, I began to worry as I started to receive countless emails and updates in my Facebook and Twitter feeds about Giving Tuesday from every charity I have ever heard of. I wondered if HHF would get drowned out by larger, more well-known charities like American Cancer Society or The Boys and Girls Club.  

People always tell me that I worry too much. And, in this case, they were right. I am proud to report that yesterday HHF received the largest amount of individual donations in one day ever (with the exception of December 31)! Since this was HHF’s first year as an official partner of Giving Tuesday, we are thrilled at the support our community has shown in support of a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus.  

HHF’s National Junior Board celebrated Giving Tuesday by hosting the second annual “Hear, Hear for Holiday Cheer” benefit at Connolly’s Pub in NYC last night. Over 100 attendees enjoyed free beer and wine, fun conversation, and great raffle prizes. Raffle items included a DASHA wellness package, tickets to a New York Giants football game, a photography session with a top NYC photographer, and multiple trip packages to Antigua, Barbados, Panama, and much more.

Now that Giving Tuesday is over, I can look forward to making next year even better and more successful for HHF!

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Hearing Health Foundation Announces Inaugural Junior Board Holiday Event

Hearing Health Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for hearing loss through innovative research, is proud to announce their inaugural Junior Board Holiday Event. Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 4th from 6:30-8:30 PM at Ashtons Alley in New York City, members of the Junior Board will host an event inspiring young professionals to rally around a cure for hearing loss. The collection of unique and passionate individuals serves as ambassadors and advocates for Hearing Health Foundation.

"As we swing into the holiday season, and enjoy the company, conversation, and the sounds of the holidays, lets not forget that nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss,” said Bejamin Melting, President of Hearing Health Foundation Junior Board. “This impairment isn't limited to the aged, but effects the young and old alike. As we celebrate over the next few weeks with family and friends; think what it would be like if you weren't able to hear the conversations around you, or the sounds of the holidays? If like me, you want to find a cure for this devastating ailment, come join us on December 4! If you can't make it, you can always donate!”

Since 1958, Hearing Health Foundation has given over $27.8 million to hearing and balance research. In 2011, Hearing Health Foundation launched the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of scientists working on cell regeneration in the ear. HRP's goal is a biologic cure for most types of acquired hearing loss. Hearing Health Foundation also publishes Hearing Health magazine, a free consumer resource on hearing loss and related technology, research, and products.

"We are thrilled to have the support of such a committed and passionate Junior Board," said Andrea Boidman, Executive Director of Hearing Health Foundation. "We know this event will be the first of many and look forward to seeing this group develop into a key awareness and fundraising team for our next generation."

The event on December 4th will feature a $45 entry fee ($35 if purchased in advance) that will include free beer from Blue Moon and wine from Justin Vineyards & Winery as well as 2 for 1 well drinks, light hors d’oeuvres, an on-site caricature artist and a silent auction featuring concert tickets, beauty packages, signed sporting memorabilia and more.

Hearing Health Foundation Junior Board members include: Benjamin Melting, Anthony Bartoli, Kristie D’Agnes, Jason Frank, Jenny Frank, Andrew Hebert, Michael Kolodny, Jessica Luterman Naeve, Dominic Pisano, Felicia Rovegno, Nicole Simels-Kolodny, Katherine Simpson, Paris St. Clair and Nathan Walcker.

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