In Canada, there are more than 350,000 deaf and another 3.15 million hard of hearing people, according to estimates published by the Canadian Association of the Deaf, or CAD. Among the non-deaf, there is a huge lack of comprehension about how to communicate with this group of people. Here are a few tips.
Communication tips You can ease the difficulties of communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing by following these guidelines. Many of these guidelines are drawn from a detailed document published on the website of the South Carolina Hospital Association. Deaf culture One important thing to recognize is that deaf people (sometimes written with a capital “D”) form a culture, featuring a variety of activities that include:
- Communication through American Sign Language, or ASL
- Schools, theatres and other institutions
- A shared experience expressed through jokes and stories
- Magazines, websites and other resources for deaf people
- Community organizations like the CAD
- Devices like flashing alarms
It’s crucial to recognize being deaf as a cultural experience, not as a disability that must be treated medically or a defect to be pitied. Many non-deaf people who wish to accommodate the deaf should start by appreciating the empowered worldview shared by many deaf people. Face-to-face Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to understand a great deal of speech through lipreading, by interpreting facial expressions or body language, and other strategies. Most deaf people also have some residual hearing. Here are some ways that non-deaf people can ease the communication process:
- Without resorting to exaggerated speech or overemphasizing – which can make the movements of your lips appear distorted – speak slowly and clearly.
- Try to use short sentences.
- Don’t turn away from the deaf person while speaking, and avoid placing anything in your mouth, as this makes lipreading more difficult. That includes smoking cigarettes.
- Standing in front of a bright light can also render lipreading more difficult.
- Using lively facial expressions and body language can help supplement communication. Pantomime also helps.
- It’s considered courteous to inform your interlocutor before answering a phone call or a doorbell. The importance of such gestures doesn’t always occur to a non-deaf person.
- Using a pencil and paper can be helpful, since some word combinations are hard to lipread.
- If arranging interpretation services, check in with the deaf person to find out if they prefer ASL, signed English, or oral interpretation. The interpreter may also be asked to express vocally the thoughts of the deaf person.
- Use the words “I” and “you” when addressing the deaf person, and address them face-to-face. The conversation, although mediated by the interpreter, should take place in a normal manner, not unlike a conversation with a non-deaf person. The interpreter should not intervene in the discussion, but may be asked to explain something further by the deaf person.
- Only one person should speak at once, and there should be a brief pause after someone finishes speaking so the interpreter can catch up.
- The interpreter is a professional and should be treated with respect and courtesy. Inform them about the topic of the discussion ahead of time if possible, and ask if they have any special requests. They may require a certain seating arrangement, for example.
- It’s also important to consider lighting in the room – the interpreter should not be backlit but may require a small lamp if the session takes place in a dark room.
- It’s difficult to continue interpreting for more than one and a half hours, so it’s advisable to have two interpreters if the discussion is expected to go longer.
Workplace issues Among the considerations for deaf people in the workplace, consider these tips:
- Never assume that a deaf person is not sensitive to loud noises. In particular, noise may cause distortion for people wearing hearing aids, as well as vibrations. Try to minimize these sources of interference.
- Partnering a deaf employee with a buddy can help them adjust to the work environment.
- Integrate special alerting systems into your workplace safety plan. For example, fire alarms and gas leaks can be signalled not only with sound, but also with flashing lights.
- Pagers equipped with a vibrating function can help communicate with deaf workers in the field.
- A good line of sight can ease communication. For example, meetings can be set up around a table in a semi-circular shape.
- Security services should be notified about the presence of a deaf employee when working outside of regular business hours.
Assistive listening devices A wide range of products are available that help people to cope with everyday challenges that accompany hearing impairment.
- Amplified telephones
- TV listening systems
- Specialized alerting systems
About Author: Travis R who is a Canadian likes more in research activities. Currently he is doing his research in Health science. His favorite hobby is blogging and writting articles. He likes to share all his views relating to health.