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!