July 9, 2023

Ready to Reduce Frustration When Speaking to Someone with a Hearing Loss?

When one person has a hearing loss or listening problem, communication can turn into an exercise in frustration, resentment, and anger.

Communication is the basis for human connection. When one person has a hearing loss or listening problem, communication can turn into an exercise in frustration, resentment, and anger. In an ideal situation, the person with hearing loss has been fit with appropriate hearing aids that have been verified to their specific needs. Even in the ideal situation, there are other factors that influence listening ability. Good communication skills are KEY to being understood.

Clear speech is a way of speaking that is designed to make speech easier to understand for people with hearing loss. It involves speaking in a clear, slow, and exaggerated manner, using simple words and sentences, and avoiding background noise.

Here are some of the key features of clear speech:

Pronunciation: Clear speech emphasizes the pronunciation of each word, making it easier for people with hearing loss to distinguish between similar-sounding words.

Volume: Clear speech is spoken at a slightly elevated volume, but not so loud that it is uncomfortable for the listener.

Rate: Clear speech is spoken at a slightly slower rate than conversational speech, giving the listener more time to process what is being said.

Stress: Clear speech uses clear stress patterns, making it easier for the listener to identify the important words in a sentence.

Repetition: Clear speech may include repetition of key words or phrases, helping the listener to understand what is being said.

Check out these examples from Oticon Hearing:

Say the sentence: “The ship left on a two week cruise”

This is the Target Sentence -the sounds we aim to produce.

In a normal conversational speaking voice, this sentence would probably sound more like this:

“The Shiplef onatwoweecruise”

Some of the vowels are missing, the “t” at the end of “left” disappeared, and the “k” of week became merged into the“c” of “cruise”.

In a Clear Speech style, the sentence would be:

“The ship left__on a two__week cruise”

The vowels sound the way they are supposed to, the “t” at the end of “left” has reappeared, and natural pauses are inserted after “left”, “two” and “week”.

Target sentence: “We were looking for a white truck to buy”

In conversation:

“We’re lookin for a whitruck tabuy”

In Clear Speech:

“We were looking for a white truck to buy”

The underlined words are the key words that need to be stressed, after which you should insert natural pauses to emphasize the natural breaks in the sentence. You will also notice that no words are merged (e.g. we’re) as in the conversational version. Nor are any words or sounds dropped.

Remember to concentrate on pronouncing every sound in every word clearly and naturally. Do not exaggerate. Do not rush. Use lively inflection. Keep in mind that you want every single part of your message to be understood.

One tip that can help you determine if you are using clear speech well is to think about how you would speak if dictating to an AI, like Siri or Alexa. You would get close to the equipment, speak slower, and enunciate all the sounds. If you can do this for a computer, you can do this for a loved one!

Are you interested in learning more about best practices in fitting hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and auditory training (including clear speech)? Contact us and we can help guide you in your journey to better communication.  

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Melissa Karp, Au.D.
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Melissa Karp is a board-certified audiologist with special expertise in tinnitus treatment, auditory processing disorder (APD) evaluation, hearing aid fitting and aural rehabilitation.