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For Millions With Untreated Hearing Loss, Holiday Season Can be Especially Difficult
Date:11/25/2009

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- For many of the millions of hearing impaired Americans, especially the 27 million living with untreated hearing loss, the holidays may not be all that happy, says audiologist Cindy Beyer.

Dr. Beyer, senior vice president of HearUSA (Amex: EAR), one of America's largest hearing care and hearing aids companies, said studies have linked hearing loss to stress, frustration, and social isolation, "which can easily be intensified at holiday gatherings with families and friends, when many of those with hearing impairment may find conversations both difficult and isolating."

"Hearing loss is often labeled 'the invisible handicap' because there are no outward signs of a handicap or limitations," said Dr. Beyer. "As a result, we are unlikely to be aware that accommodations may be necessary to avoid a breakdown in communication."

Here are some suggestions from Dr. Beyer for making holiday meals and celebrations more comfortable and enjoyable for those with hearing impairment and for the people around them.

  • Speak clearly and distinctly, but not too fast. And never shout.
  • If you're asked to repeat something, do so without raising your voice and appearing annoyed.
  • If your comment or question is still not being understood after repetition, reword it. Some words are easier to understand than others.
  • In a group situation, be sure that the person is included in the conversation. If not, bring him or her back in.
  • When speaking, look directly at the person and try not to be more than five feet apart.
  • Your facial expressions and gestures and your overall body language
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