DEAFNESS is the third most common disability in the world, but you probably wouldn’t spot a deaf person in a crowd. It’s important to realise is that people aren’t simply either deaf or hearing. There are varying degrees of deafness, from being hard of hearing to being profoundly deaf.
SIGNS THAT SOMEONE IS DEAF
Someone who is hard of hearing may have the TV or radio turned up loud, may ask you to repeat what you’ve said, or may appear to be ignoring what’s being said around them. Depending on the amount of hearing that deaf people have, they may tell you they can’t hear, you might spot a hearing aid, their voice could sound very diﬀ erent to what is considered normal, or they may be communicating with someone else in animated hand gestures (sign language) which you probably can’t understand.
TOP TIPS FOR COMMUNICATION
- Attract the customer’s attention before speaking. The best way is a gentle touch on the shoulder or gently waving your hand.
- Always ask how you can help. Don’t shout.
- Make sure you are in a well-lit area where your customer can see your face this can make lip-reading and watching facial expressions easier.
- Look at and speak directly to your customer.
- Use your usual voice level, if a deaf person uses a hearing aid it can be very uncomfortable for them and can be seen as though you are shouting.
- If necessary, ask if another method of communicating would be easier, for example a pen and paper, phone text message.
- Don’t put your hands in front of your face when speaking.
- Use visual aids when possible, such as pointing to printed information on a leaﬂ et/brochure.
- Talk at your normal rate, or slightly slower if you normally speak very fast.
- Don’t say – ‘It doesn’t matter’ or ‘I don’t understand
- Use short sentences and simple words with normal lip movements.
WHY NOT LEARN A NEW SKILL?
Try to learn a bit of fingerspelling or British Sign Language (BSL) which is a great skill to have!