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Parents and Grandparents with Hearing Loss: Tips for Communicating with Children

Shanna Groves is a hard of hearing (HOH) mother of three and often becomes frustrated with not hearing her children's voices well. And she is not alone. According to the Deafness Research Foundation, 17 percent of American adults report some degree of hearing loss. Many are parents or grandparents.

Parents and Grandparents living with hearing loss often experience communication difficulties with children due to their soft high pitched voices. Among the communication difficulties noted by Deborah Wolter and Kathleen Quinn in their article "Young Children in Families with a Parent with Hearing Loss" (Hearing Loss, July/August 1999) are:

  • Lack of dialogue between kids and their HOH parents 
  •  HOH adults using older children as interpreters for younger kids 
  •  Failure to hear a child's night crying and identify its cause 
  •  Tantrums, whining or frustration among children when unable to get the adult's attention 
  •  Younger kids gesturing, pointing or leading the HOH adult instead of talking

In a perfect world, all children would come with captioning devices attached to them so hard of hearing folks could understand their words. Until that day, these communication and technology strategies may help.

  • Make eye contact during conversations to aid speech understanding
  • Consider Assistive Technology and Hearing Dogs to assist in alerting you in critical situation such as hearing a waking child in the middle of the night
  • Have Fun with Communication to teach your children how to better communicate with you.
  • Turn Background Noises Off which will reduce distractions and aid in speech understanding
  • Educate Your Child Often on your hearing loss and communication strategies

To read more about these helpful tips for parents and grand parents with hearing loss and ways to improve communication with children, read: Tips for Parents and Grandparents with Hearing Loss written by Shanna Groves, a mother of three who has hearing loss.

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