E – Environmental changes
Several weeks ago, we discussed how certain environments are inherently bad for continued successful communication. Environments that are noisy and dark, such restaurants, tend to make communication, especially when someone has a hearing loss, much more difficult. In the previous blog post that discussed poor environments for communication, it was suggested that changing the situation—finding a new environment that fosters better communication, would be helpful. The focus of this post is how to change an environment that may not be ideal for communication and make it more suitable. By making a few easy changes to your home, you will be able to better support easy and effective communication that may improve conversation, especially with someone who has hearing loss.
An example of an environmental change is to incorporate many soft surfaces, such as rugs and carpets, upholstered furniture, throws, pillows, and cloth drapes into your decor in order to improve the acoustics of the room. Soft surfaces will absorb the sound, instead of causing it to bounce off, as sound does on hard surfaces. If a room has a lot of hard surfaces, where the sound waves are being reflected back into the room, it causes rooms to sound echoy and noisy. Another example of something that can be done to your home environment to make communication easier is to have a lot of bright lights available. Having adequate lighting improves visibility allowing a person, with or without hearing loss, to use all of his or her visual cues. Refer to our blog post on May 11th to review the benefits of visual information for effective communication.
Lastly, decreasing the amount of extraneous noise, such as the TV, radio, kitchen noise, etc., is also really helpful in promoting successful communication. If there is background noise that is as loud or almost as loud as what you are trying to hear, it is going to make understanding conversation difficult, even for people with normal hearing. If a person has a hearing loss, understanding speech in the presence of background noise is even more frustrating.
If we take a look at our scenario, we can see that the environment is actually fairly conducive to good communication. There are many soft surfaces in the room—drapes, rugs, the couch, and a lot good lighting sources as well—the windows are wide open and letting in lots of light. The only issue with the scenario is that the TV is playing loudly while the woman is trying to talk to the man. Ideally, if the woman had wanted to ensure successful communication, she would have asked if she could turn the TV down before she started talking with the man.
This concludes our blog series on communication strategies. We hope that you found WATCH and CARE to be helpful approaches to remembering effective ways to promote successful communication. Tomorrow we will begin a new series of blogs for the summer. Also, we have an exciting give-away that we will announce at the end of our first blog in the summer series!