Do you get worried you’ll do the wrong thing when working or meeting people who are deaf or hard of hearing ? Think you might feel foolish ? Relax…from Sam, comes his ten top tips for communicating with deaf people.
- We are normal people. Just without the ability to hear, it does not mean that we are stupid or dumb. Get your facts right.
- If you say “Oh, I’ll tell you later” or “It doesn’t matter” or “Don’t worry” when a deaf person asks you what was being said: this is like swearing. It really offends deaf people when you say something like that. It might seem stupid to explain at the time but trust me, it is worth including them in the conversation.
- Do….not…speak…to…a…deaf…person…like…this! Seriously? We are deaf not dumb! It’s hard when people do speak like this to a deaf person and harder to understand but trust me, just be normal!
- When you go to the cinema, or to the theatre or have a deaf person around and are watching TV or a film, please don’t complain about the subtitles. They are there for the deaf person to follow the story. It actually surprises me that some hearing people actually like having them on and they find it better to watch the film with the subtitles.
- Some deaf people can actually hear some sounds so watch out if you talk behind their back. Just be nice to them and they will do the same.
6. Deaf people do not need to be shouted at. Just stay calm if they don’t understand. It may be stressful at that time but keep trying and eventually you will both understand each other.
7. Have other methods of communication around other than lipreading. With this pandemic going on and people wearing masks which cover the lips, it is already hard for those who use lips to understand what is going on. Have a pen and paper or whiteboard to hand so they can follow what is being said. Or even use your phone to communicate. You can do this by downloading apps like Google Transcribe, LiveTranscribe or Ava which help communication massively.
8. Do not be embarrassed when a deaf person doesn’t understand you. Use your body language or visual gestures to communicate with us. It is hard enough for me not to understand you. Just take your time to communicate, please.
9. Learn British Sign Language. Deaf people love it when other people learn BSL from the best teachers. And the best teachers are Deaf themselves. Companies like Signature or iBSL have courses in your area and you can start to take off learning starting from around £400 for a Level 1 BSL course. This is a good place for you to start. This is also a brilliant place to meet new people and make some friends.
10. Remember a Deaf person is just like you and me. Just a human being. Don’t treat them with disrespect. They are made to be part of this world and sometimes you might meet one of the 466 million deaf people in the world. Heck, you might already know one (*wink* *wink*). Just be yourself and treat them with the same respect as you would like to be treated.
If you are worried and want to speak to someone about these tips, please just PM me on Twitter or Instagram and we can talk more.
Love yourself and love each other. This is a time when we need love most.
Deafinitely over and out.