Dennis Hampton, Ph.D
280 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, New York 10605
(914) 761-4455

Suggestions for Family and Friends . . .

Most people don't understand what it's like to have a hearing loss. Even if they want to be helpful, people who have normal hearing can't know what it's like to hear but not understand, to hear noise more than voices, or to hear well in one situation but not in another.

Your hearing aids are your most important source of help for your hearing loss. On the other hand, your family, friends and co-workers can also be an important source of help.

Here is a list of suggestions for the people who are around you. You may want to print out these suggestions and show them to your family and friends. Some information, some understanding and a little effort could make your life-and theirs-just a little bit easier.

Hearing aids provide very important help to me, but they do not restore normal hearing! On the other hand, there are a few things you can do to help me hear as well as possible. This will make my life-and yours-a little easier. Here are some suggestions:

Be polite. It's good courtesy to get my attention before talking to me-and I hear better! Getting my attention allows me to "get ready" to listen. And please don't speak to me from another room! It's simply too difficult when you're far away and out of sight. (I may hear you call me . . . but don't expect me to understand what you say!)

Don't talk fast. Perhaps the most difficult speaker for me is the person who talks fast. Because I have a hearing loss, I often have to "figure out" what someone said. I simply can't keep up with a fast talker. One of my most important tips: slow down!

Face me when you talk to me. Even if I'm not trying to "lipread," I understand more easily if I can see your face. And please don't chew gum, smoke or cover your mouth while you're speaking; it makes "lipreading" much more difficult.

Come closer. When you stand a little closer, your voice is significantly louder and lipreading is much easier. Someone only three feet away is probably twice as easy to understand as someone eight feet away.

Reduce background noise. Because of my hearing loss, noise interferes with my hearing more than it does for other people. If you want to speak with me, please turn off the television, radio or air conditioner. If you can't, please understand that hearing in noise is much harder for me than it is for you!

Just because I heard you doesn't mean I understood you! Hearing is not the same as understanding. That's why people with accents and people who mumble or talk fast are so difficult for me. I hear them ... I just don't understand them.

If you follow these suggestions and I still don't always understand you, remember that I'm not being rude or difficult ... I'm just having trouble with my hearing!