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How to Improve Hearing

Use Clear Speech

Leesa Burke, MA, FAAA's picture
How to Improve Hearing
How to Improve Hearing

I often hear my patients say, “If only people spoke more clearly, I wouldn’t have as much trouble hearing.” Although damage to the hair cells of the inner ear does cause some inherent distortion in the received speech signal, it is true that clear spoken speech CAN make listening easier for hearing impaired people. Research suggests that in less than an hour, partners of people with a hearing loss can improve their ability to be understood by 40% or more, even in noisy backgrounds. So, what IS “clear speech”?

•           Speaking slightly slower, with more precise pronunciation

•           A slightly increased volume

Using frequent pauses between key phrases. For example, the sentence, “I am going to the movies and then out for dinner next Friday with my friend,” said without any pauses, would be much more difficult to understand than if the sentence were broken into smaller segments.

“I am going to the movies (pause), then out for dinner (pause), with my friend (pause), on Friday.” If clear speech techniques were used by all communication partners, AND, we used some other very simple techniques, such as talking face-to-face, reducing any environmental noise (such as TV, radio, fans, etc), hearing in noise would be much easier for all!

Learn more about the audiology clinic at Hebrew SeniorLife by clicking here.

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Clinical Supervisor, Audiology at Hebrew SeniorLife

Audiologist Leesa Burke, MA, FAAA, is a Fellow in the American Academy of Audiology and a member of the Massachusetts Speech, Language and Hearing Association. Her special areas of interest include rehabilitative audiology, assistive listening devices and counseling for the hearing impaired and their families. Ms. Burke has been featured in the Boston Globe's Senior Set on hearing loss.

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