As we grow older, we gradually lose more of our hearing. In fact 91% of all people over the age of 80, have some hearing loss. Of these, 40 to 50% say that their quality of life is impaired due to their hearing loss. Most will lose the ability to hear higher frequencies at first, and some will therefore struggle to understand high-pitched voices. Others may have the opposite problem, where low-pitched voices are harder to hear. F, S, M, and Sh sounds typically disappear first, although this differs from person to person.
There are many things you can do to make it easier to talk with a hard of hearing person. Special devices is not always necessary
Advice for communicating with someone who's hard of hearing
In order to get the most out of a conversation with a hard of hearing person, it is important to remember that many people want to give the impression that they can hear whatever is said (something most of us are guilty of at times). They may nod, smile, and behave as though they have understood, even if they have not. Ask a few questions to establish whether or not the person actually understood you.
Speak clearly, not loudly
If someone is struggling to understand what you are saying even if you have spoken clearly, it rarely helps to raise your voice. Raising the decibel level of your voice will instead have the opposite effect. It will become more difficult for them to understand you, and at worst, damage their hearing even more.
Speak more slowly than usual and include pauses
When you slow your pace of speech, you will naturally articulate words more clearly. If there are significant communication problems, try shortening your sentences and including pauses.
Be aware of background noise
Background noise can be problematic for people with hearing loss. It is essential to keep this in mind when you call someone who has a Komp device. For instance: close the windows, turn off the radio and television, etc. (Hearing aids often pick up all surrounding sounds, and the person with hearing loss will struggle to distinguish between the sounds or voices they want to hear and do not want to hear).
Announce new topics – “Now let’s talk about…”
When switching topics, prepare the person for the new topic, e.g. “I have to tell you about the great hike we went on in Nordmarka.” Context is important when many words sound the same.
Advice on digital communication using Komp
Stable internet connection
Sit down in a place that has a good internet connection when calling someone on Komp. A stable internet connection is important for good audio and video. Good video is essential for people with hearing impairments because many rely on lip-reading to understand what is being said.
Hold your mobile phone in landscape mode
Be clearly visible on the screen, and make sure that you hold your mobile phone still and in landscape mode.
Do not cover your mouth
We read lips. Many do this without thinking.
One person at a time
Sharing a microphone may be challenging. It is important that only one person speaks at a time, and that the others are silent.
Be aware of background noise
Remember, background noise can come from both the receiver’s end and from the sender’s end. Find a quiet place to have a conversation.
Both the person speaking and the person listening to the conversation should be wearing headphones. The closer the source of sound, the better. Noise-cancelling headphones can be helpful if there is a lot of background noise.
Headphones > hearing aids
Hearing aids, especially older ones, may create some noise when wearing headphones, so it might be wise to remove the hearing aid before putting on headphones. Earbuds may work best for some people.
Hearing aid devices that can be used with Komp
If you wish to use hearing aids, the devices below can be used together with Komp.
Headset/cable with audio output
Both the person speaking and the person listening to the conversation should be wearing headphones. The closer the source of sound, the better. Headsets can be connected by a USB port behind the Komp device. Most types of headphones should be Plug & Play and work automatically, however No Isolation can’t guarantee that all headsets will work.
Headsets can also be connected by:
1) a 3.5 mm jack
2) via RCA connector.
Both require an external USB sound card.
If you have found an induction loop helpful, this can be used with Komp.
When using the induction loop, it is best to connect the sound directly from Komp using a cable. You will then need an external sound card. This must be connected to Komp via the USB port on the back of the Komp device. It requires the Komp user to have the right device/hearing aid that supports an induction loop.
Assistive listening systems
If you have found an assistive listening system helpful, this can also be used with Komp. An assistive listening system detects sounds in the room, amplifies the sounds and sends them to the connected headset. Most assistive listening systems can also be used with an external microphone attached to the Komp loudspeaker for even better detection of sounds.