Hearing Loss—Talk Siri to Me

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.

Hey Siri.

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.

What’s better?

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?

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Book: Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss

14 thoughts on “Hearing Loss—Talk Siri to Me

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good to know! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  1. Shari, so often I see individuals trying to use Siri when their voices are not distinct enough to comprehend what he/she is saying. What is the best way to approach this? Another concern is what is the option for people who cannot hear Siri at all? What system is available for those folks? Keep in mind, those with residual hearing should count their blessings because you have something rather than nothing?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for your questions. The focus of this article was that when people speak extra clearly (like they are talking to Siri) to people with hearing loss it can ease communication. As for people with hearing loss using Siri, in the new iOS, the Live Captions (Beta) will provide text of what Siri says. It is not perfect, but it is a start. Hope that helps.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is a great topic. Thanks for the idea. Here is one article you might enjoy that touches on this area. https://livingwithhearingloss.com/2018/03/27/i-love-my-new-captioned-phone/

  2. Shari, regarding the last topic about captioned phones, I now use Olelo to make captioned calls on my cell phone. It is easy to see who is talking, as each speaker’s dialog is shown in a unique colored box, and a transcript of the call can be sent to your email. It is available for both Android and iOS. Check it out at https://www.olelophone.com/
    Thanks again for your wonderful blog,
    Lita

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Excellent. Thank you for sharing what works for you.

  3. Jerry Henderson – Pownal Maine – Thank you for coming to my space. This is where I post thoughts, opinions and commentary on a variety of subjects at irregular intervals. I try to do something weekly, but have not nailed down a rigid schedule, like every Wednesday, yet. If you would like email notifications of new posts, you can make that happen right on the site. Simply enter your email address to subscribe. Also, if you would like to comment I welcome that. Just do so in the space at the bottom of any selected post. Sharing thoughts, opinion and commentary is a peculiarly human characteristic. It must be exercised to be enjoyed. Jerry Henderson
    Jerry Henderson says:

    Shari, this is the best object lesson I ever saw. When Siri says, “Sorry. I didn’t get that”, she is saying speak more clearly and face me. I don’t in fact get that comment often from Siri. I know I am talking to a “machine” so I unconsciously make an effort to be understood. I figure this machine needs my help. This is very interesting. Thank you.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of "We Hear You," an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, "Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss," (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      If only everyone would talk to us like we were Siri! LOL Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jerry.

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