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VisionAware

Resources for Independent Living with Vision Loss

American Foundation for the Blind® | Reader's Digest Partners for Sight

Hearing and Vision Loss

As with the eye, the ear's performance is affected by aging, which can severely hinder communication between you and your family. When it occurs in conjunction with vision loss, you may feel increasingly isolated from your loved ones and the rest of the world. Fortunately, there are steps you can take today to ensure that you remain a fully engaged participant in the world around you.

woman using a hearing aid

Assistive listening devices are helpful communication tools for people who are losing their hearing.

Visit a hearing specialist. If you haven't done so already, talking to a specialist is the best way to determine if an assistive listening device is right for you. It's very possible that one of a wide variety of such devices can help restore some or even most of your hearing capacity.

Visit an audiologist. Some severe ear conditions cannot be corrected with a device, but there are alternative communication skills you can learn. An audiologist can help you determine what sort of hearing condition you have and what resources are available.

Educate your loved ones. Family members will often be confused and uncomfortable when trying to overcome the communication barriers that hearing loss (and vision loss) can create. They will make mistakes. Take command of the situation by giving them a few simple guidelines. Start with this sample "To Do" list. Ask family members to post it on the fridge.

A Special Family "To Do" List

  1. Speak slowly, clearly, and directly to me.
  2. Avoid shouting (it only distorts what I CAN hear).
  3. Try gestures (pointing) to help get your message across.
  4. Speak in low tones. (Hearing loss affects high-range sounds first.)
  5. Remember not to speak to me from another room.
  6. Move away from background noise (a stereo, open window, competing conversations, etc.).
  7. Allow for more "processing" time. (It takes me a little longer than before to process what you're saying so give another moment or two before moving on to the next point.)
  8. I may be losing my hearing, but the noggin is running just fine. (Please try not to "talk down" to me because I'm having trouble hearing you. My mind is as sharp as it ever was.)

Thank you!

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