Deaf Awareness week is perfect timing to reflect on how much you know about your Deaf community.
Do you know the difference between an Acquired Hearing Loss and those who identify as Deaf?
Do you know who uses the term Hard of Hearing and why?
Did you know that many natural BSL users see Deafness as a different life experience rather that a disability, and culturally there is an incredibly rich Deaf history encompassing hundreds of years of language evolution and discrimination
Deafness is a hidden disability, it is frequently overlook and totally underrepresented in most communities, you could change that!
One simple statistic sums it up: There are more d/Deaf people in the UK then there are 20-30 year olds, and all of those people deserve the same level of respect and communication as everyone else.
Here are some simple tips to help you on your way to becoming more Deaf Aware, but I would encourage anyone who works with the general public to complete a Deaf Awareness course and be proactive with communication, remember, it’s not just about understanding the individual, conversations are a two way thing… you have a duty of care to make sure you are being understood also.
Should anyone be interested in learning more about Deaf Awareness or British Sign Language you can contact The Hull Deaf Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
- When communicating with a d/Deaf person, maintain eye contact and lower your mask. A d/Deaf person needs to see your lip patterns to communicate, for example, don’t look down and write and talk, this will not work.
- Make sure your face is well lit and you don’t have the light behind you, this will cast a shadow over your face and they will not be able to read your lips to communicate effectively, simple things like if you are outside and its night time, chances are a d/Deaf person will not be able to communicate.
- Try to go somewhere quiet to talk, if the d/Deaf person is wearing hearing aids, all noise is amplified.
- Do not shout or raise your voice at all, shouting draws attention to the situation, and changes your face shape to make you look more aggressive.
- Speak clearly and don’t cover your mouth, don’t talk slowly, keep a steady rhythm of speech, but break your sentences up into manageable chunks of information.
- Don’t use jargon!
- Don’t exclude the d/Deaf person, talk to them direct.
- Ask the d/Deaf person how they want to communicate, and facilitate that, if that means getting an interpreter then do so.
- It is not appropriate for friends or family members to interpret.
- Every member of staff should know how to book BSL interpreters.
- Many d/Deaf people use their phones to type information for you to read, please be patient while they do this, English is not the first language of BSL users.
- Please remember the Deaf person may need you to understand something also, if they cannot make you understand something then an interpreter is needed.
- Many d/Deaf people can seem obstreperous, but please be patient, they are trying to understand or be understood.
- Smile, be kind and patient. Meet the d/Deaf person half way.
Learning to say hello!
BSL is a rich full language that evolves as all languages do, it has structure, form and grammar.
Did you know that BSL has regional accents, just as audible language does?
For any further information on Deaf Culture, Deaf Awareness, BSL, or if you have a hearing loss and need any advice or assistance please contact Hull Deaf Centre on email@example.com