Bring Back Music into Your Life

May is Better Hearing and Speech month and HLAA-SLC is celebrating with an event called Bring Music Back into Your Life on Saturday May 19th from 4-8 PM. This event is made possible with a combined effort from HLAA-SLC, Loop Utah and the Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Bring Back Music jpg

In addition to the groups listed above we couldn’t do it without participation from some of our favorite local companies who support hearing loss: CaptionCall, Vibe Music Events, Listen Tech, CapTel, Cochlear America, CostCo Hearing Aids of Sandy UT, Hale Centre Theatre, Relay Utah and the U of U Student Academy of Audiology.

Hearing Loop We Support Url Rev A

We have a lot of activities planned and much of it in the Loop! Our presentations will be in the hearing loop, we will be playing movies in the hearing loop and there’s the accessible dance floor by Vibe Music Events which is itself looped. To experience great sound, make sure your hearing aid and cochlear implants have the telecoil program turned on. What’s a telecoil? (Sometimes called t-coil.) Visit this website,then make an appointment with your audiologist to ask him/her if your hearing aids (cochlear implants have them) have a t-coil because you want to experience hearing loops. Other accommodations include CART (real time captioning) and ASL interpreters so everyone can enjoy the event.

And there’s a lot to enjoy. Make sure you try the accessible dance platform by Vibe in the gym with various genres of music. Finger foods will be available along with devices that have a t-coil so hearing people can see the difference a hearing loops makes too.


We will also have a living room loop set up in the lounge playing Gael Hannan’s Unheard Voices and there will be musical movies playing theater style in the lecture hall which has a hearing loop. Loop products and information will be set up in the conference room along with information, find out how easy it is to install a living room loop or have on installed. Bluetooth information will be available here too because we love both technologies.

Peter McDonald, hearing instrument specialist will be giving a presentation at 5:00 on the hearing aid music program, streaming and apps that can help.  Have you heard of the speech banana? “The “Speech Banana” is a useful visual tool for describing where the sounds used in everyday human speech occur on an audiogram.” Hearing aids are programmed with the sounds of speech in mind but that doesn’t work for music. Learn how another program on your hearing devices can increase your enjoyment of music with Peter.

Maclain 2

At 6:00 experience Maclain Drake’s energy and enthusiasm for music and how he didn’t let hearing loss keep him from it. He takes on acting too. He will talk about the challenges with music and how he works through it all. His passion for making music accessible to all runs deep.  Maclain has had a hearing loss all his life and wears two hearing aids.


maclain 4

Maclain as a young Han Solo.

The best part of this is getting to hang out with your hearing loss tribe. Nothing beats being with others who know what you are going through and how best to to talk to you. Meet others in the community with hearing loss and make new friends, find mentors and learn how it’s possible to live better with hearing loss. Register now here:


Auditory Fatigue

Susan Naidu came to our last HLAA-SLC meeting to talk about auditory fatigue, also called listener fatigue and cognitive energy fatigue. She is a professor of audiology at the University of Utah. She works with patients in the clinic, trains graduate students to become audiologists and her favorite thing to do is aural rehabilitation therapy. She was happy to talk about auditory fatigue because “it’s a very real phenomenon, it’s a real condition but it’s not discussed much and not researched enough.” It isn’t clinically recognized but many professionals are familiar with it.


Auditory fatigue doesn’t mean people are dumb because they can’t listen, it’s the “energy it takes to fulfill the complexity of listening because listening requires more to go on in your brain in order to comprehend what you’re listening to.” Ian Noon wrote about this in his piece on the Limping Chicken out of the United Kingdom only he called it concentration fatigue. Noon says: “I went to a great conference today. It was riveting and I was hooked on pretty much every word. And then I got home and collapsed on the sofa. I’m not just tired, I’m shattered. I’ve had to turn my ears off to rest in silence and my eyes are burning. I’ve also had about 3 cups of tea just to write this paragraph.”

Susan introduced us to Kathleen Fuller’s work on hearing loss and cognitive energy. Kathleen asks: “How can audiologists better understand and find ways to counteract the factors underlying why listeners may decide to quit participating in activities because it takes too much effort to listen? How can audiologists help listeners to strategically deploy their available cognitive capacity in situations where it is hard to listen? How can audiologists prevent listeners from avoiding situations and withdrawing from social participation because it is too hard to listen?… It’s said we hear with our ears and listen with our brain now we add when and how much effort we expend during listening in everyday life depends on our motivation to achieve goals and attain rewards of personal and/or social value.

Listening takes effort. It’s not only being able to hear but being able to pull all the components together to communicate properly. It’s being able to understand language, generating an appropriate response and being able to keep it going back and forth to make a conversation. Usually people aren’t just listening either, they are multitasking; washing the dishes, walking, watching TV, etc.

For those with hearing loss it takes even more effort. Not only are they taking in the above but they are trying to decode the message. Add in being visually aware to compensate such as speechreading and body language. The mind races to fill in the blank spots in words and conversations which involves guess work. Hopefully it matches the context of what they did hear. The mental process is “I’m not hearing well enough. I have to do something and physically push the brain to listen better.” After an hour (or less) these people are really tired and experience discomfort, pain and numbness.

What makes listening even more difficult? Noise, it’s the number one complaint for those coming into Susan’s clinic. Trying to filter and ignore noise makes listening harder for hearing people and difficult for the hard of hearing. Even with modern technology in hearing aids such as directional microphones and noise reduction programs noise remains a problem. Restaurants are an example, bars and traffic. (Hearing in cars has never been easy!)


What other things become hard with this much cognitive energy being spent? Remembering things get harder because with so much going on in the mind already, it’s hard to find a place to stash the information. People may have a hard time remembering names because there’s more focus to understand what’s being said. While in a meeting they can be so intent on understanding the words as they are being said that half the meeting information is forgotten.

Because of the intense concentration, hard of hearing employees end up taking more days off because the mental stress affects their bodies causing actual illness. Or to balance out, they stay home evenings and weekends to recuperate. For those who don’t work, many tend to withdraw because it’s too much work going to that party, the play or lecture. It’s easier to stay home and watch TV with captions. It’s not worth it in the end, the struggle is too much.

Mohan Matthen is studying why some hard of hearing people are more successful at socializing than others. He thinks it might be a pleasure factor. When audiologists diagnose hearing loss and fit people with hearing aids they tend to talk about adverse conditions. What if they talked about positive things instead? If a person can exhibit more pleasure in the role of listening they might be more relaxed and less stressed out. Once it becomes pleasurable their listening effort seems to be reduced. No matter how hard it seems, seek listening enjoyment. Make it fun and shoot for positive because the reward will be “I will understand.”


So what helps combat this fatigue?

Advocating helps a great deal. What do you need to make this meeting better? CART (live captioning)? Sitting closer to the presenter? Assistive listening devices? One speaker at a time? Don’t talk while multitasking? There’s a lot to be said for planning ahead as well. Think about the environment, talk to the event coordinators, find out if the venue has assistive listening devices such as the CaptiView at theaters or live captioned performances. If you’re going to a lecture/workshop/convention, talk to those in charge well in advance to see what might be set. Some people report learning speechreading has helped lighten their fatigue. Visiting with people a few at time instead of large groups. Limit interruptions, have a quiet room to talk to family members at large gatherings. Ask for background noises (music or TV) to be turned down or off. Go outside to eat because break rooms usually have lousy acoustics. Take hearing breaks and read instead of watching TV. Arrange for hand signals when conversation needs to be slowed down or when wanting someone to talk louder. Find out what works for you and advocate for yourself. It’s okay to experiment with it all.


HLAA-SLC thanks Susan for coming to present at our meeting. We had a large group of people and good conversation. There are more links and ideas to follow below in regards to auditory fatigue.

We have bi-monthly regular meetings. The next meeting is October 15th and will be on letter writing for advocacy at the Sanderson Center to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing from 10am-Noon. Do you have something you’d like to approach with the Utah or national legislature? Let us know what your questions and we will make sure it gets into the meeting. We will have more information on that soon.

Speaking of making listening pleasurable, HLAA-SLC has a book club that meets between regular meetings. All meetings have CART (live captioning) to make it less effortful and more enjoyable. Give it a try. We meet September 24th from 10-11:30 am at the Sanderson Center in classroom B/V with the hearing loop. The book selection is I Am Malala. She is the girl who was shot by the Taliban for going to school. This caused her to lose her hearing, so part of the story concerns her cochlear implant. There are two editions of this book, one is for young readers; we’re doing the other one, which is co-authored by Christina Lamb.

Studies done on prolonged exposure to audio stimulus (for those who want to go deeper). This phenomenon occurs after an an extended period of time listening to speech and happens to hearing people as well. Hearing people have more problems than expected which might be related to an auditory processing disorder. Susan said those with hearing loss all have auditory processing disorders.

Richard Gurgel is studying the relationship of hearing loss and dementia. Are individuals with diagnosed mild dementia experiencing decline in auditory processing? Older individuals who have hearing loss but didn’t have hearing aids showed improvements once aided, not just in quality of life but in skills. People were thinking they had dementia when they didn’t.

Starkey on listening fatigue.

Amplification study. Amplification has limited improvement for those with a steep slope high frequency hearing loss.

Susan recommends the LACE (Listening And Communication Enhancement) Program, it improves listening skills.

More publications by Mohan Matthen on hearing loss and displeasure.

Assisting Individuals With Hearing Loss Who Experience Auditory/Listening Fatigue

Whether an individual has had hearing loss their entire life, or their hearing loss has been slowly progressing for years, focusing auditory attention to the task of understanding speech can be an exhausting experience. Add a difficult listening situation such as noise, and the experience is made worse.  Despite the marvelous benefits received from hearing aids and cochlear implants, listening continues to be “work” for most individuals. Aural rehabilitation therapy consists of therapy that assists individuals in developing their listening skills, but, also, provides counseling tools and compensatory strategies to aid in reducing auditory or listening fatigue and maximize the listening experience.  This session will discuss these tools and strategies for reducing listening fatigue, as well as, problem-solving examples of difficult listening situations. 

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Susan Naidu, guest speaker, is presenting on: Assisting Individuals With Hearing Loss Who Experience Auditory/Listening Fatigue.  Susan has been a practicing audiologist for over 30 years.  At the U of U, Susan teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in pediatric audiology and aural rehabilitation therapy for children and adults.  Additionally, Susan is a clinical supervisor at the U of U Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and supervises graduate audiology students in aural rehabilitation therapy for children and adults with hearing loss, as well as, the assessment of auditory processing disorders in children and adults and hearing evaluations with children.

When?  August 20, 2016

Where? Sanderson Center to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, 5709 South 1500 West, Taylorsville, UT  84123 in the Conference Room.

For more information email:

Brad Ingrao on Hearing Loss and the Holidays

National HLAA held another webinar last Wednesday night featuring Brad Ingrao. This is the bio posted on the website: “Brad is an audiologist, Tweeter, freelance technical illustrator, writer, lecturer and technology geek. He has been a long time friend of HLAA and has logged many hundreds of hours on professional and consumer listservs related to hearing loss over the last 15 years.

Dr. Ingrao is a consultant for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Hearing Enhancement at Gallaudet University. This grant funded program supports Dr. Ingrao’s regular column in Hearing Loss Magazine.”

His topic was focused on how to improve the holidays gathering with hearing loss.

People with hearing loss, Brad said, are shortchanged when it comes to the holidays. We often travel for holidays which leaves everyone tired, hearing loss or not. When we get there, we too want to catch up with all the people we don’t normally get to see, cramming in conversations over a short period of time. With the background noise, people talking over one another and music, we tire out faster perhaps becoming agitated. Plus, being out of our environment means we lose control. We can’t control schedules, music/TV settings, rooms/acoustics or arrange for people to talk one at a time. It’s a downward spiral from there.

Many people still hide their hearing loss, afraid of being ‘outed’ as hard of hearing. How do we do we cope? We can either come out as hard of hearing or we can continue to bluff. We can become the constant talker so we don’t have to listen to others. Brad says the payoff is 100 times greater to say, “I need this to hear.” They are our family and they want us to hear them and they will, hopefully, help us. So how can we improve the situation?

  • Be honest – Accept your hearing loss and avoid bluffing. Find a way to be at peace with your hearing loss. Disclose your hearing loss and know what helps you hear better.
  • Educate – Educate yourself and your loved ones about your type of hearing loss.
  • Be Prepared – Get a hearing aid tune up before you go. Have a professional cleaning done. Get a ‘speech-in-noise test done. Set your directional microphones in your hearing aids. Have lots of batteries with you and insert fresh ones just before that important event so you’re not stuck in changing batteries in the middle of it. Use a humidifier.
  • Take Control – Make an itinerary. Plan ahead. Arrive early. Identify a rest spot. Pick your best listening spot. Be proactive.
  • Conserve Energy – Rest. Take hearing breaks. Cut your losses and move on when needed because sometimes it’s just too difficult.
  • Give Feedback – Acknowledge the effort of others. Suggest ways to make things better next time. Offer support to others who have hearing loss too.

Next, Brad went over three typical holiday scenes. First he pulled up a picture of a holiday dinner table seating 8 people. One end featured huge windows and he suggested staying away from those because of the reverberation. Also stay away from the ends of the table. Pick seats in the middle of the table that way you can catch what’s being said on either side. The reality is you won’t hear it all but in this position you have a better chance to hear more.

Next he pulled up a cocktail party scene. To talk to someone in this kind of event, get away from the main crowd and find a corner. Try to find something sound absorbing such as curtains, a rug and/or big puffy chairs.

At a place of worship, go early and sit upfront or call ahead and ask to reserve a seat upfront. Ask if they have ALDs or take your own. He briefly covered ALDs and which ones he liked before closing for a question and answer session.

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope these tips help you with your holidays.

merry christmas

HLAA holds monthly webinars. The webinars are captioned, show the person presenting and their power point presentations as well. They are free. For a schedule of topics and information on how to sign in, go here:

HLAA National Webinar with Sam Trychin

Last night HLAA presented a webinar featuring Sam Trychin. This seems to be a huge topic for those with hearing loss and even next months webinar deals with holiday headaches. Sam is a psychologist in private practice and provides consulting services to stairways behavioral health. Sam serves as the proceed if heal advisor to HLAA in the area of mental health. To view his website, go to

Holidays are tough, Sam says. Family members don’t know how to help us or if they do, they sometimes get caught in a conversation and forget we need a little help. He suggested a number of things to help which he called 8 Key Strategies for surviving the holidays and having a good time.

  1. Write notes or letters ahead of time to explain what helps you to be included.
  2. Place what to do signs around the house, such as “Don’t talk to Sam’s back.” “Slow down a little when you talk to Sam.”
  3. Wear a T-shirt with communication guidelines. He showed his holiday shirt with the 12 communication guidelines on the front and Happy Holidays and two ears on the back. Make it fun, he recommended. (Basic communication tips from HLAA, scroll down, not sure what his 12 are but this is an example.)
  4. Make appointments to catch up with family. If you haven’t seen a family member in a long time and they come to the gathering, ask him/her to schedule some time out for just the two of you.
  5. Anticipate difficulties. Think about where you are going such as the acoustics and what you can do to prevent problems like taking an ALD.
  6. Use relaxation techniques before and during the family gathering. (Susan brought this up at our last chapter meeting and gave a few exercises.)
  7. Use assistive listening devices (ALDs). They can make a big difference. A comment at the end of the webinar was that a lady felt embarrassed to be wearing one. Sam’s commented everyone wears something on their ears these days so we shouldn’t be embarrassed about what’s on ours.
  8. Smile a lot. Smiling triggers positive neurochemistry. It helps reduce stress.

A sense of hearing is essential to survival. Sounds travel faster to the brain than any other sense. Hearing loss shorts our ability to tune into auditory information provided by the environment, that can produce a kind of chronic level of tension and anxiety. Our family members also feel this tension, worrying about us hearing what we need to survive, like not stepping into traffic because we can’t hear what’s behind us. With our reduced sense of hearing, it’s important to stay within our environment in other ways. Here are 6 Key Strategies and Tactics to stay involved:

  1. Use ALDs
  2. Use alerting devices.
  3. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques to increase attention and alertness to external events. The calmer we are, the better we can pay attention.
  4. Fine tune our visual capacities. He suggested playing visual games to increase the powers of observation, even computer games.
  5. Anticipate environmental changes, from room to room, from house to car. Environments change.
  6. Get lots of sleep, rest and exercise with a proper diet.

Holiday dinners cause those with hearing loss social pain. We feel different and have little connection so we also feel like we don’t belong. We appear chronically irritable in these situations so we tend to want to avoid them but this escape is potentially dangerous. Avoidance works in the short term but in the long run it equals depression, loneliness and early mortality. A lot of times is the source of the problem is not the hearing loss. It’s not knowing what to do to prevent or reduce communication breakdowns. Sam says, “Find a support system!” Find a hearing loss chapter and go because you can reduce communication issues.

Sam gives another list tactics to avoid communication breakdowns:

  1. Learn to identify the cause of communication problems.
  2. Learn and practice guidelines to prevent/reduce communication problems.
  3. Identify and change unhelpful reactions
  4. Model your communication needs (our own Kathy is an excellent example of this).
  5. Increase awareness of body reactions.
  6. Catch yourself in automatic reactions to stress.
  7. Use this to enjoy the holidays.

The key to all this is practice, practice, practice Sam tells us. Practice especially the relaxation techniques like deep breathing in the car and smiling. “The simple act of smiling just changes what’s happening in your brain.” Then he recommended a book and DVD called “Relaxation Training” and the DVD is captioned.

The webinar drew to a close and he took a few questions from the audience. All in all, the hour went fast! It included a power point presentation making it easy to follow and a chat box to be able to ask questions. All of it was free.

The next webinar features Brad Ingrao on December 18 from 6pm-7 mountain time. He has a column in the HLAA Hearing Loss magazine. His topic will be The Gift of Hearing: Technology and Tips to Reduce Holiday Hearing Headaches.Description: Brad Ingrao, Au.D. has been using enabling technologies since the mid-1980s. As an early adopter of computer technology in audiology, Dr. Ingrao is recognized, and has served as a subject matter expert for several multinational hearing aid, audiology diagnostic equipment and hearing industry software companies.

Hearing Loss and Interviewing

At the 2012 HLAA Rhode Island convention, Malik B. El-Amin presented a workshop called Hard of Hearing and Exceptional – Landing the Job and Achieving Career Success. In today’s world it’s tough finding a job and having a hearing loss on top of it doesn’t makes us feel any more secure in the process. The American Disability Act (ADA) backs us up but doesn’t guarantee we will have a job. Malik went over the ADA, what it covers and what it doesn’t. Here’s his overview:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) –Title 1

Covers private, state & local govt., employment agencies, and unions with more than 15 employees

Covers job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and training

Must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such an impairment, or be regarded as having such an impairment

Must meet legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that you hold or seek, and be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation

Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. No “undue hardship”

Employer cannot make any pre-employment inquiry about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability

An employer is not required to reallocate essential functions of a job as a reasonable accommodation

Some of what he shared is common sense; look professional, arrive early and leave behind or turn off phones and gadgets. Keep your current job or do some volunteer work to fill time. Go to industry related events and check out the local chamber of commerce.

For those of us with hearing loss, he had a few more tips like controlling your hearing loss. Rehearse talking about your hearing loss before hand, be comfortable with it. Don’t fake it or bluff your way through. Use your typical accommodations. Provide accommodations if you can, ask for the rest. Don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments in the interview, like lighting (if I can see you better, I hear better). This shows you in charge of your hearing loss.

We don’t have to disclose our hearing loss on applications or at interviews but it might be better to be upfront so no one is surprised. (Personally, I don’t list my hearing loss on applications and I don’t talk about it on the phone. I wait until I’m in front of the person so I’m not prejudged.) There are some positive aspects to hearing loss he reminded us.

We are good about accepting others as they are.

We listen because we have to.

Adversity is no stranger to us.

Malik is a member of the HLAA Los Angeles chapter.  His convention presentation can be found here: (cut and paste might work better than clicking)


Here are some helpful links to other websites on hearing loss and job interviews:

Employment Toolkit for the Hard of Hearing by HLAA

Managing at Work

CapTel has suggestions:

blog by Gael Hannan

Another bloggers personal perspective:

Apps and Services to Aid Phone Use

 phone ringing

Using my smartphone is great for texting, email and the internet. As hard of hearing, these features keep me in the communication loop but using it for actual phone calls is another matter altogether. There are times when using the phone is unavoidable and I have to do it. In the last few weeks, I needed help getting messages off my voicemail which sent me on a flurry of research.

YouMail: My boyfriend found this service so we could forward any voicemail to him and he could text me back with the necessary information. It’s free (with ads), $2.99 a month without ads and there is a business plan which includes voice to text for $24.00 a month. They also have Read It plans but it gets a little goofy here, with $4.99 a month for 20 voicemails at 20 seconds of transcription. Their next level is $9.99 with 40 voicemails and 40 seconds each and on up to their unlimited plan which includes unlimited messages and 60 seconds of transcription each. They have a free app available for iPhone and I now have it so I can forward messages which I wasn’t able to do through iPhone alone. It also allows me to record personal greetings to people in my contact list and have a default message for everyone else.

My boyfriend is willing to help me out but as my business picks up, I don’t want to burn him out so next I asked my friends at the SayWhatClub (SWC, a daily source of support and friendship via email) how they coped with retrieving voicemails. It turns out a lot of us use our significant other or try very hard to get people to use email or text instead. Those who still deal with the phone (usually for business purposes) told me about services and programs they heard of or used. I haven’t tried them myself yet but here are options you can look at.

PhoneTag: Their website says, “PhoneTag uses advanced technology to convert voicemail to text and deliver it via e-mail and/or text messages.” Their plans range from 35 cents a message, to 40 voicemails a month for $10 and unlimited for $30 a month. Jaynie Kind who writes for her local HLAA chapter in California wrote in their 2009 newsletter, “My husband just set it up and it’s fantastic! People can leavevoicemail messages on your home or cell phone and thosemessages can be transcribed and sent to your email or cellphone as TEXT messages! No more struggling to understandvoicemail.” On the downside, another friend on the SWC email list said he signed up for the service and after 5 days hasn’t been able to use it and tech support is via the phone only.

Google Voice: They have a video to watch for information but it’s well captioned. This service appears to be free at first glance. It’s over-view says the transcription isn’t always perfect but believes we will get the basic message anyway and they are working to improve that portion of their service. It has many options including tying three phone together if needed. Someone who used this service said it wasn’t perfect but it’s not bad. (I’m thinking it can’t be any worse than relay operators and it can’t be as awful as YouTube captions.) I’m not sure how much of their Voice services are free but it might be worth checking into. I like their honesty so I will look into this soon.

After doing a web search, I found other businesses offering similar services:

Before my voicemail issues last week, I hadn’t heard of any of this and didn’t know these kinds of options existed so I thought I’d share my discoveries. Feel free to add your thoughts and experiences below in the comment section.

Scott Bally’s Workshop at the SayWhatClub Convention: Ten Communication Strategies That Really Work


Last May, I attended the SayWhatClub’s convention in Williamsburg, VA.  Dr. Scott Bally and Bonnie O’Leary gave a two hour presentation giving  us “10 Communication Strategies That Really Work.” I think we all learned at least one thing here (if not 10) about communicating with a hearing loss.  I also saw him at workshop a year ago at the HLAA convention in Rhode Island.  If you ever get a chance to see him present, do it.  Not only does he give good information but he’s also a lot of fun.  Here’s a summary…


 Scott Bally


#1  Shore Up Your Repair Strategies


Scott says, “Be fair and don’t overburden the speaker. Eliminate “huh” and “what.” Learn to be assertive but not aggressive. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Have a variety of repair strategies to fit different circumstances. (Ask for the topic, a repeat or a rephrase as an example.) Be sure to thank the other person for their help and sensitivity, a show appreciation goes a long way.




#2  Use Maintenance Strategies


“confirm…CONFIRM… CONFIRM” He says. Repeat back what you heard to be sure you understood correctly. When trying to follow a conversation or instructions, take it in small increments and set the pace you need. Stop speakers sooner than later if you didn’t understand because believe it or not, you’re wasting less time.




#3  Anticipate


Knowing a topic can increase your understanding of a conversation by 50%. Here, he provided us with a lip reading exercise. He silently mouthed 5 words without giving us a topic. I got all of them wrong. Then he told us the next five words would be ‘fruit.’ I got all but one right. The funny part of this, the first set of words were the same fruit. Peach looks like another word altogether if a little body language is thrown in. He sure threw us off there the first round.




#4  Guide Communication


Guide conversations by initiating topics but don’t dominate conversations, he warns. We can also lead communication by asking better questions. Ask yes and no types of questions and closed set or limited set questions. Get precise enough to get simple answers. “Effective questions will limit what you need to lip read…and makes it easier!” Finally, instead of “What” or “Huh,” repeat back what you heard and ask for the missing piece, saving energy on both parties. Or better yet, ask for a rephrase.




#5  Create Better Communication Partners


“People can change, it takes persistence, sensitivity and constant reminders.” Explain your hearing loss, tell the other person what you need and suggest verbal or non-verbal reminders. It’s important to be knowledgeable about your hearing loss because not all are alike and we all have different needs. He also emphasizes our partners have the same sad feelings we do so “Develop solutions together.”




#6  Create Better Communication Environments


Improve your environment paying attention to lighting and acoustics. Create a communication environment. He showed us pictures of beautiful rooms which promoted sound bouncing all over the place making it more difficult on our ears. How do we improve our rooms? Have curtains instead of blinds, a throw rug over wood floors, big, fluffy pillows and furniture. Plants and books also help soak up sound. How about looping the living room, aren’t we worth it?




#7  Be More (or less) Assertive


Where are we on the assertive scale of one to ten? Some of us may be a bit too shy and other might be too demanding. Scott suggests being clear with your request and provide a reason (being upfront about your hearing loss). Use courtesy instead of anger. An example he provided, “If you trim your mustache, I’ll do dishes for a month” vs “It’s me or the mustache!” How would you like to be asked?




#8  Pace Yourself


Trying to hear for hours at a time is exhausting. It’s okay to take time outs, he says. Walk around the block, take a mental nap, slip into a quiet room. Let your ears and brain rest and he even gave us permission to fake it once in a while, especially if it’s Aunt Bessie telling the same story for the 100th time. He advises us to be well rested before big hearing events too.




#9  Give Yourself A Break.


“Change what you can, don’t frustrate yourself trying to change the unchangeable.” Look for things you can change in your environment. Can you change a mumbler? (See # 5) Or someone with a mustache? You can ask them to trim it but they may refuse. Don’t bang your head on a brick wall. Remind a fast talker to slow down with a prearranged hand signal telling them you really do want to know what they say and want to hear every word.




#10  Change Your Thinking


Hearing loss is only part of the problem. Things like loud music in restaurants, everyone talking at one and acoustics compound the problem. Some people have long mustaches, accents, are soft talkers or fast talkers. Communication is a two way street. Make our needs known, keep a variety of strategies at our disposal and we can get along in society. We are smart people because we are constantly filling in the missing pieces. “It’s more than lip reading! It’s visual plus auditory plus context plus linguistic knowledge. 2 + 2 = 5,” he tells us.




For more information on Scott Bally check out his book:


Speech Reading: A Way to Improve Understanding, a book he co-wrote with Harriet Kaplan and Carol Garretson


This post written by Chelle George