Jennifer Coyle on Creating Presentations Potent for those with Hearing Loss or Hearing Aids

Hello, I am Jennifer Coyle, Research Associate at Western Michigan University and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the National Secondary Technical Assistance Center. Due to the number of emails and comments on yesterday’s post, this is a follow up to Creating Presentations Potent for All with tips specific to presenting to people who may have hearing loss.  Many people with hearing impairments do not like to identify themselves, therefore it is difficult to approximate the number. Knowing this increases the importance of creating presentations that are hearing impaired friendly.

Lesson Learned:

  • Your audience is likely to include those with hearing loss.
    • In 2011, John Hopkins reported 20% of the US population aged 12 years and older has hearing difficulties severe enough to impact communication.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs says about 60% of deployed military service men and women have noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and other hearing injuries.
    • Millions wear hearing aids.


  • Emphasize hear-ability: Look at your audience while speaking and speak loudly.
    • Don’t assume that just because you can’t see any hearing aids no one in your audience is hard of hearing. In fact, many people who have aging-related hearing loss may not be fully aware of their hearing loss. It’s your job as presenter to make sure everyone hears the presentation and any questions that are asked.
    • Close the doors to eliminate exterior noises.
  • Use local resources.
    • See the ADA coordinator or the event location’s facilities management to ask about assistive hearing devices. Some facilities have headphones, t-coil capabilities that broadcast directly into some hearing aids through the PA system, and other assistive hearing devices.
  • Emphasize understandability: Remain visible.
    • Many with hearing loss read lips or gain information from non-verbal cues.
    • As a presenter, keep in well-lit areas.
    • Audience members who are intent on watching you may be reading your lips.
    • Do not turn your back to the audience. If you need to read your slides, read from a laptop or notes in front of you with lips visible to the audience.
  • Emphasize understandability: Articulate and enunciate clearly.
    • Speak clearly into the microphone.
    • Repeat questions asked from the audience for all to hear.
  • Emphasize readability: Use words on presentation screens.
    • Use closed captioning when possible.
    • Use words with images.
    • Use visual cues to gain attention (i.e. blinking screen)
  • Handouts may be critical especially for those with hidden disabilities.
    • Distribute handouts before you present this especially assists those have hearing loss.


Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

3 thoughts on “Jennifer Coyle on Creating Presentations Potent for those with Hearing Loss or Hearing Aids”

  1. It kills me that a audiologist told you your child might grow into his hearing! Early intervention and having proactive parents, like yourself is the most important keys to have. Thanks again for your article … Important for parents and professionals to read

  2. Jennifer Sulewski

    As someone who is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids (and will be at the conference this fall), I just wanted to say thank you for bringing this issue to everyone’s attention.

    As a note to those from AEA following the conversation, I recently heard that the American Sociological Association has decided as part of its accessibility initiative to “Provide captioning for all plenary sessions as standard practice (not simply upon request).” Might be a good option for AEA as well. I know I would appreciate that and I suspect others would too, even those who don’t have hearing loss.


  3. Thanks so much for this post. As a person with just a moderate hearing loss, I have struggled with presentations (as well as in meetings and places where there is background noise) for many years. I finally got hearing aids about a year ago.

    Hearing aids now are very tiny and barely visible, especially if you have even a small amount of hair. Most people don’t notice them at all, and therefore do not think about a person having a hearing loss.

    Furthermore, although hearing aids are a definite improvement, they do not replace normal hearing, so all of the things you mentioned are great suggestions and still apply.

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