7 top tips for communicating with deaf people.
Posted by Matt Sadler
Communication can be a struggle for some deaf people, so we asked one of our hearing dog partners for some top tips on how best to speak with deaf people.
Our tips for communicating with people with a hearing loss
- Always face a deaf person. Make eye contact and keep it while you are talking. Try not to look away or cover your mouth as many deaf people rely on lip reading to help them understand you.
- Check noise and lighting. Turn off or move away from background noise. Make sure your face is not in shadow and there are no strong lights or sunshine in their eyes.
- Keep your distance. Stand a metre or two away from the deaf person. This is important for hearing-aid users, lip-readers and signers.
- Speak clearly, slowly and steadily. Don’t mumble, shout or exaggerate – it distorts your lip patterns.
- Take turns. If there is more than one person in a conversation take turns to talk.
- Repeat and re-phrase if necessary. Trying to say the same thing in a different way might help.
- Write it down. Don’t be afraid to write or draw to help understanding.
And arguably one of the most important points to remember is to keep trying – even if a deaf person does not understand what you’re saying the first few times. So many of our partners have told us that when someone says ‘oh, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter’ it feels like they mean ‘you don’t matter.’ Even if it takes four or five times of rephrasing or even writing it down, don’t give up.
You can also learn how to sign the alphabet in British Sign Language with TV presenter Angellica Bell here.
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Anne, 13 Dec 2021
One other tip that I got from my mother was to try and speak with a slightly deeper tone. She had difficulty making out most female voices (eg on TV) because of the naturally higher pitch but coped better with a bit more bass
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