Communicating with deaf people
It's not difficult at all and you make someone's day.
Tips for communicating with the deaf
Remember they are deaf
It often surprises me, no, it always surprises me how little people know about communicating with the deaf. Why is this so?
Invariably it's because of all the disabilities people have, this is the one least understood by hearing people. You cannot put your finger in your ear and know what it's like to be deaf. Just isn't possible. This isn't your Uncle or Aunt or Granny who suddenly becomes hard of hearing in their old age and may or may not need a hearing aid. No Sir, noSireeeeeeee, this is someone who is deaf. What this simply means is that they cannot hear. Why can you not understand that? A hearing aid will not help them, certainly not in hearing speech anyway. OK then, I hope you understand, so here goes.
The first thing you should understand, that's if you understood any of the above. Do not shout, as they cannot hear you.
Which leads us to, just what do you do? Good question, as it depends on the deaf person involved and what level of rehabilitation he/she has received. For the purpose of this article stay with those who can lip read and not sign.
Classic skill which you can teach yourself or to your child
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Talking to someone reliant on lip reading
Some useful tips for hearing people
I am of course assuming that whoever reads this has also never met a deaf person before. Whether you have or haven't, here's what I consider you should do. I've actually, personally been deaf for so long now it seems self explanatory, but one forgets what it was like in the beginning, until you got to know the deaf person.
First and foremost be as expressive as you can, especially with your hands and your eyes. No need for elaborate pantomime, but, a bit of pantomime helps.
Secondly, slow down and I mean slow down. You might be surprised just how fast you talk. We are taught during lip reading not to expect this and to improve our skills. It's been my experience however that slowing down is a huge help.
Thirdly, try and give the person an idea of your subject matter. For example you could mime a golf swing and the deaf person now knows what you are going to talk about. This makes an almost unbelievable difference.
Fourthly, do not change your subject matter without letting the deaf person know. Just brush your two hands together or something and they will click. The butt of all deaf jokes come from instances like these. I'm always the first to laugh at them as they are so true.
Look straight at them, as it's very difficult to lip read someone looking at the floor or the ceiling or turning their head sideways. That's why it's called lip reading, you are hearing the lips, but if you can't see them it does become difficult.
Don't speak in single words, rather sentences. Lip reading is about getting the gist of the sentence and not every word. So golf, golf, golf, doen't work. But I am going to watch golf today on TV does, especially with a mimed golf swing.
Whatever is in your mouth, cigarette, matchstick, chewing gum, take it out please, we cannot lip read properly whilst you are doing that. A great tip (if you're wearing sunglasses), lift them onto your forhead because the eyes tell so much.
Lastly, patience is a virtue and especially so with the deaf, be patient, don't be afraid to spell a word in the air with your finger if you think the person never got it.
Hope all this helps.