Siri doesn’t always understand us.
Hey Siri, what’s the latest weather forecast?
I didn’t get that.
So we repeat it. Hey Siri, what’s the latest weather forecast?
But this time we face the phone, position our mouth close to the microphone and ask the question in a loud and clear voice, enunciating each syllable of every word.
Cloudy with a chance of showers in the afternoon.
She got it this time. Hmm, Siri is a lot like me.
Talk to People with Hearing Loss Like You Talk to Siri
People don’t always understand how to talk to someone with hearing loss.
They may shout or speak veeerrry slooowwwlly making it almost impossible to understand them. With hearing loss, louder is not always better (and neither is unnaturally slow speech) because both distort the lips making it harder to lipread.
Sometimes people forget their hearing loss communication best practices and turn their backs to us or cover their mouth with their hands. Some even try shouting from another room! That’s not going to work.
Talk to us like you talk to Siri.
1. Get our attention first
Before you talk to Siri (or Alexa, etc.) you get their attention first by saying, “Hey, Siri,” letting them know they need to listen. Because hearing is something that requires focus for people with hearing loss, getting our attention first gives us the best chance of understanding too.
2. Face us
People with hearing loss hear with their eyes too. Called speechreading, this technique uses visual information like lip movements and facial expression to help us understand speech. Because fewer than 50% of speech sounds are visible on the lips, it takes a lot of concentration and can be exhausting.
3. Move closer to us
Siri cannot hear through walls, around corners or across rooms. Neither can people with hearing loss. Hearing aid microphones work most effectively on sounds within six feet so position your body (and your mouth) towards the person with hearing loss for better acoustics.
4. Speak in a loud and clear voice
Shouting will not work, but a certain volume is required for people with hearing loss to understand speech. Speak in a loud and clear voice for best results.
5. Enunciate each syllable
Rapid speech is harder to process. Speak at a moderate pace, enunciating each word clearly. While this may feel awkward for some at first, think of it as your “presentation voice” or “talking to Siri voice” and it will seem more natural.
6. Minimize background noise
Reduce competing sounds whenever possible by lowering background music or turning off air conditioners. Or better yet, move to a quieter location.
For more hearing loss communication tips see How to Have a Better Conversation with Someone with Hearing Loss or Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss.
Readers, do you wish people would talk Siri to you?