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Communication Development

General Communication Strategies

To Promote Language Development:

  • Be aware that hearing aids do not "correct" hearing in the same way that eyeglasses correct vision. Hearing aids will not be able to fix your child’s hearing; however they should be able to help your child hear speech.
  • Remember that distance from the speaker is a critical factor in the child's ability to understand speech.
  • Be aware of background noise and attempt to reduce it. Background noise interferes with the main message. Place sound absorbing materials in the classroom etc. to reduce reverberation (i.e., area rugs, drapes, cork board on walls).
  • Remember that the deaf or hard of hearing child may have fluctuating hearing loss as a result of colds or ear infections changing what he or she can hear from day to day.
  • Have a daily plan in place to be sure hearing aids and /or FM systems are in top working condition. Familiarize yourself and those who care for your child with the equipment and encourage their consistent use.
  • Speak in a normal tone of voice.
  • Try to make eye contact and use facial expressions.
  • Get your child’s attention before talking to him or her.
  • Talk about what you are doing with your daily routine.
  • Start conversations and take turns talking.
  • Help your child localize sound by using visual cues.
  • Use repetition.
  • Look for cues that your child understands what you are saying.
  • Expand your child’s vocabulary by using other adjectives and adverbs.
  • Play listening games (auditory version of ‘I Spy’).

To Aid Speechreading:

  • Speak facing your child at all times.
  • Speak normally. Exaggerated lip movements are difficult to understand.
  • Try to stand still while talking. A moving target is difficult to speechread.
  • In the classroom, ensure your child is seated close to the front of the instructional area where he or she can see both the teacher's and students' faces. The further your child is from the person speaking, the more difficult it is to speechread.
  • Cue your child as to who is speaking during a group conversation. This could be as simple as a gesture towards the speaker or simply saying their name as they are about to speak.
  • When necessary, rephrase a question to clarify meaning.
  • Be sure that you have adequate lighting on your face when speaking. Do not stand in front of a window as the backlight will shadow your face.
  • Remember not to obstruct your child’s view of your face. A paper or book held in your hand could easily block a child's access to visual cues. 

Communication Tips for Children Wearing Hearing Aids

  • Hearing aids all day every day: Make sure the hearing aids are always on- they are your child’s lifeline to speech, and the key to learning spoken language with the exception of sleep and water time.
  • Be heard clearly: Even a low level background noise can make it difficult for your child to understand all or some of what is being said; constantly having the TV or radio on will slow their rate of learning.
  • Talk, Talk, Talk: Language is caught not taught so make plenty of meaningful language available in the child’s environment.
  • Pay attention to what interests the child: Follow your child’s lead; the language that is most meaningful is the language they are most ready to learn.
  • Move closer, do not make your voice louder: if your child can’t hear, the speaker should move closer to your child, rather than raising their voice.
  • Rephrase and expand: If your child only hears part of what is said, try rewording the sentence or expanding on the subject and allow your child put the pieces together.
  • Provide structure and responsibility: This will lay a foundation for success and encourage your child to persevere even if they don’t hear everything.
  • Communicate your pride: Be matter of fact about your child’s hearing loss. Teach them that hearing aids are a part of who they are and therefore loveable. Their self esteem, confidence and belief in their ability to fit in will be rooted in the values and attitudes of the adults caring for them.
  • Have high expectations: Hearing loss is a barrier to communication but your child will be able to cope with it, and the family and local community will be able to provide support.


BEGINNINGS For Parents of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Inc. (2008). To Aid Speechreading. Retrieved 2008, from http://www.ncbegin.org/school_issues/speechreading.shtml

BEGINNINGS For Parents of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Inc. (2008). To Aid Use of Residual Hearing. Retrieved 2008, from http://www.ncbegin.org/school_issues/residual_hearing.shtml

McKay, S. (2006). Management of young children with unilateral hearing loss. The Volta Review, 106(3), 299-319.