Communicating With the Hard of Hearing

The Canadian Hearing Society of Canada estimates that approximately 60 per cent of seniors over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss. The most common cause is Presbycusis, which affects the ability to hear and understand certain sounds.

Talking over the phone with an elderly loved-one can prove to be a frustrating experience for both parties when dealing with hearing loss or difficulty placing and answering calls. Often times even the most modern hearing aids are not sufficient for those with hearing loss to make out what someone is saying on the other end of a telephone line.

Amplification is not the only obstacle to hearing, it can be a matter of tone or pitch which may be difficult for an older person to hear. That, combined with the lack of physical cues, such as facial expression, can lead to frustration. Many seniors rely on lip reading to verify what they think they are hearing. Phone lines and even Skype or Facetime calling with a delay in the sound is not always ideal to facilitate good communication.

In the past, seniors could purchase a teletype machine which would go through a relay center and provide the hard of hearing with a visual version of a phone conversation. The service has now modernized and with the use of a laptop and a wifi connection, deaf and hard of hearing users can communicate almost anywhere.

Current home phone users can also access voice dialing of charge on their home phone line. Bell Canada many services in their Accessibility Centre for people with disabilities in speech, hearing, cognition, vision and mobility and dexterity.

For more information about communication services and for system and technical requirement for IP Relay on home or mobile phone, visit .

Tip for Communicating with the Hard of Hearing:

  • Speak clearly
  • Talk directly to the person, in full view
  • Be patient when repeating information
  • Try to include the hard of hearing in the conversation
  • Eliminate background noise while talking
  • Offer support in supplying and maintaining/adjusting hearing aids