We know how important it is to provide children with hearing loss language-rich environments at home and at school. The next step is making sure that those environments are optimized to make listening as easy as possible for your children. There are three important factors to consider when assessing different listening environment: distance from the sound, background noise, and reverberation. Here are a few ways you can keep these factors in mind at home. 

Thanks to Dr. Sydney Bednarz, River School Audiologist, for joining us to discuss how to make your home listening friendly.

Distance from the sound:  Getting closer to your child is one of the best ways to increase the auditory signal. If possible, get closer instead of louder! Raising your voice can distort the speech signal, where getting closer increases the volume of your voice without the same effects of distortion.

Background noise:  Believe it or not, there are noises in your home that you don’t even hear. As experienced listeners, we automatically ignore sounds that do not provide us with any useful information. These background noises, however, interfere with your child’s ability to develop listening and language skills and may be easily fixed with a few minor changes in your home. Where are the noises coming from?

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Dishwasher
  • Refrigerator
  • Bathroom fan
  • Air conditioner
  • Fish tanks
  • Windows (rain/wind outside)
  • Computer keyboards

Reverberation:  Reverberation is when sound bounces off of hard surfaces i.e. hard wood flooring, and return at different times to the listener, causing the message to be blurred. . Soft objects in your home, such as carpets, curtains, table cloths and other soft materials can help dampen reverberation.

What can I do to help? 

  • Be mindful of background noises when you are having conversations with your child.
  • Get closer to your child when speaking to him/her and make sure you are in the same room with them.
  • Use carpeting, rugs, curtains, table cloths and other items to cover hard, flat surfaces
  • Limit TV use and turn it off when no one is watching. Turn off the TV/radio/music at mealtimes. Sit at the table together and chat.
  • Keep doors to other rooms shut (line doors with weather stripping if sound still comes through)
  • Place air conditioners and fish tanks in places where you do not do a lot of talking
  • Purchase a soft keyboard for your computer
  • Get sound resistant windows and caulk around windows.
  • Vacuum cleaners, washing machines and lawn mowers all make it very difficult for your child to understand what you are saying to them. Be aware of this if you are giving them instructions or warning them about something.
Looking for more resources?
Here’s a great post by Hearing First about optimizing listening in your home!