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8 Things Hearing People Can Do To Better Communicate with Deaf People

Communication between hearing and deaf or partially hearing people should not be difficult. There are some actions that hearing people can take to help reduce anxiety for deaf people who may be nervous or worried about communicating.

Keep reading below to see our top tips that hearing people can do, to better communicate with deaf people.

Get our attention

If you want to speak to a deaf person, first, get their attention by either waving or a gentle tap, so they can face you and focus on you. If you are speaking to someone who is hard of hearing, remember they rely on hearing aids which may be picking up other background sounds. In a noisy environment, that can make it difficult for them to hear what you are saying.

Speak Visibly and Clearly

When you are talking to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, who may have a hearing aid, remember it is not about volume so there is no need to raise your voice or shout.

Continue to speak as you normally do but remember to speak clearly so they can also lipread you. It would be helpful to include appropriate facial expressions so they can follow the conversation better.

Repetition is Key

Someone who is deaf or hard of hearing may rely on lipreading to follow a conversation. Remember that they may not get 100% of the conversation so it’s important to be patient and repeat if necessary. This may take a few tries but don’t give up!

Bear in mind that connection via digital communications may affect the flow of the conversation so it’s important to have a pen and paper ready so you can write it down and show them online. There is often a chat facility included with digital communication so if you can, give that a go as well! 

Be welcoming and Smile

Deaf and hard of hearing people can become anxious at the thought of having to communicate with someone who isn’t deaf aware. Just being friendly with a smile is the first step to help them instantly relax with the knowledge that you are prepared to try and communicate with them.

 Learning British Sign Language (BSL)

Learning some basic British Sign Language would help you to communicate more easily with deaf people and make them less nervous. BSL is a fantastic skill to have.

Learning this specialist and unique language includes how to fingerspell the alphabet and making simple gestures. Using basic BSL gestures can really help to ease what may otherwise be an awkward conversation that could result in misunderstandings.

Use captions in online communication

Using captions in online communications such as Zoom or MS Teams or as part of online presentations, can be a useful tool in improving your communication with deaf people.

Although this is accessible for deaf people, bear in mind that, for many, British Sign Language (BSL) is their first language so English may still be hard for them to follow. If you are using captions, make sure to use basic words and sentence formats that are easy for them to understand.

Texting rather calling

Texting rather than calling will make it accessible for deaf people to communicate with you. You can also use email to reach them.

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Posted 24th February 2022