Deaf Awareness Week 2015: Communicating with Deaf People

This year, the 4th May to the 10th May is Deaf Awareness Week. For those who don’t know, I am mildly/moderately deaf and wear two hearing aids. So today, I thought I would talk about Deaf Awareness as well as share a few tips.

First off, I think the focus of Deaf Awareness Week has shifted over previous years. Of course, the main aim of promoting good deaf awareness is the same, but whilst previous years have addressed the negative reactions to someone saying “I am deaf“, I feel as though this year is about debunking myths and misconceptions, as well as talking about how best to communicate with deaf people.

I say this because, in theory, hearing people not knowing how to communicate with deaf people is what leads to the myths and misconceptions about deafness. The true meaning of lipreading becomes twisted and some hearing people exaggerate their lip movements because of this. Speaking of which, here is tip one:

Face us, and speak clearly and normally. One of my biggest bug bears is mumbling (although I am prone to doing this myself when I am in the mood for a moan). Don’t shout, exaggerate lip movements or mumble, speaking normally is the best way for us to lipread you. Also, for people like me who don’t lipread on a regular basis, turning to face us not only allows those who lipread to lipread you, but for those who don’t, we can it a voice to the name – which can be key in loud environments…

Use texting, sign or basic mime to communicate in noisy spaces. Admittedly, I’ve never used this in pubs, concerts or gigs before. However, after knowing how loud such environments can be, using a universal medium such as texting or mime is useful in all scenarios.

A light pat on the shoulder is the perfect way to get a deaf person’s attention. This is far less awkward and rude than shouting, yelling or anything similar.

Be patient if you are asked to repeat something. Be understanding if we didn’t hear you the first time, just be patient and say it again.

Lastly, learn basic sign language. As mentioned at the start of this post, poor deaf awareness now comes from hearing people not knowing how to speak to deaf people. But you shouldn’t feel awkward – we are all the same! By having a few basic signs such as hello and how are you under your belt, you will be able to communicate with deaf people.

So I hope you found this useful! If you’re deaf, leave your deaf awareness tips in the comments section below! If you’re hearing, then comment your experiences with deaf people and the deaf community! I look forward to reading them.

Liam

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9 thoughts on “Deaf Awareness Week 2015: Communicating with Deaf People

  1. I have been wanting to learn sign language for so long now. I’ve never really met a deaf person before, just older people with bad hearing. But I would absolutely hate to meet someone deaf and not be able to communicate. I would feel so rude and ignorant! If you know a good place to learn online, please let me know!

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    • Oh, well I hope these tips help if you ever meet a deaf person!

      Absolutely! My friend Amy has some BSL lessons on YouTube. Her channel name is ‘Amy Dawson’. Hope this helps!

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      • Definitely, but it’s pretty much how I would act anyway. I would never dream of shouting at someone for attention.
        Thank you so much, I’ll check it out! x

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  2. This is a great post – one of my coworkers at a previous job was deaf and she was really vocal about how we could help communicate with her! I’m going on a course soon to learn BSL too – as I work with patients in the NHS; really looking forward to that! Thanks for sharing these tips x

    Sharan | essehearts.com

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