Sometimes a setting is optimal for conversation—like a quiet summer night—until something changes—like cicadas! As people with hearing loss, we must be willing to adapt—and ask other people to make adjustments too. My latest article for HHTM discusses the steps we can take to keep the conversation flowing, even in a tough listening environment.
See an excerpt below. Read the full piece on HHTM.
Cicada Mating Season Raises Havoc on My Hearing
Ah, summer! The warm weather and light breezes mark my favorite time of the year. I love swimming, and hiking and watching the fireflies blink on and off in the darkness after the sun goes down. It is a time for vacations, and laziness and long evenings on the porch with family and friends.
But at the end of each day as the sun sets and nighttime creeps in, the noise level jumps. Frogs start singing, crickets begin chirping and during certain weeks, the cicadas add their incessant high-pitched buzzing. Sometimes the background noise exceeds 70 decibels! With typical speech in the 60-65 decibel range, it can be almost impossible for me to hear over the background din.
How to Converse in Loud Environments
If a listening environment becomes more difficult, we must take whatever steps are needed to keep the conversation flowing.
Try these ideas.
1. Utilize communication best practices.
Ensure that everyone is following the ground rules for good communication such as speaking one at a time and keeping their face and mouth uncovered and pointed in your direction. Small changes in behavior can create big improvements in comprehension.
2. Brighten the lights.
If residual hearing is compromised, speechreading will be even more important. A well-lit environment makes it easier to see lip movements and facial cues.
3. Change the seating arrangement.
A circular table helps conversation by making everyone’s faces more visible and keeping voices projected toward the center and easier to hear. If a circular table is not available, put the people who are most difficult for you to hear across from you to aid with lipreading. You may also benefit from sitting in a corner or with a wall behind you to block out the distraction of noise from behind.
Continue reading on HHTM for more ideas.