With Deaf Awareness Week upon us from May 15th to May 21st 2017, I thought I would share some tips on how best to communicate with both deaf or hard of hearing individuals. I was personally diagnosed with a hearing loss around the age of 5 when I had my pre – school checks. After being born with perfectly normal hearing, I lost a degree of hearing which affects my ability to hear high pitch sounds, such as female voices due to suffering with several ear, nose and throat infections throughout my childhood. Despite being diagnosed late, I was fitted with two hearing aids and attended a mainstream school. I also managed to reach my full potential thanks to my family and wonderful teachers and ended up graduating with a 2:1 in Business Studies and Hospitality management.
Despite 26+ years of living in a quieter world where words are often distorted, I still haven’t quite nailed the ability to lip -read like a pro and whilst you may think that blogger social events don’t phase me in the slightest, the truth is everyday is a challenge and I am constantly learning what work’s for me. I may be able to hear on the phone now thanks to my awesome phonak hearing aids with built in Bluetooth that enhance speech and I may even have a wonderful support network and most eating establishments always accommodate my need for a booth in a nosier environment. But being hard of hearing still presents many challenges for me on a daily basis. I am petrified of public transport in case I don’t hear announcements and the thought of having to ask for help worries me in case I don’t hear said person or understand their accent – Accents are a whole other ball game believe me.
Funnily enough I usually can cope if I am thrown into these situations and have even been told by my close friends that I am great at working a room at a large party. But there are some things that you can do to make my life so much easier and you can also adopt some of these methods when dealing with other deaf or hard of hearing individuals.
- Remember just like you all hard of hearing and deaf people are different
- If in doubt don’t be afraid to ask
- Feel free to talk to me about my hearing – but don’t make it the topic of conversation for the whole event.
- Speak clearly
- Don’t cover your mouth
- Face me when talking
- Don’t speak with your mouth full – Why people do this is beyond me regardless of one’s hearing ability
- Be prepared to repeat yourself or rephrase if necessary
- Write things down or use body language to communicate a particular point
- Do not say “don’t worry” or “it’s not important”.
- Do not say “you need to listen more”
- Be aware that I might not hear you with my back to you, at a distance or in a loud restaurant.
- Treat me the same as everyone else
- Don’t pity me
- Don’t mumble
- Avoid slang
- Speak up if necessary
- Please don’t assume that I know sign language – I only know the alphabet for the record
- Above all – Be patient.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh or joke. I am always messing around after all – If you can’t laugh at yourself then who can?
Now of course, the best way to create awareness is to talk about various issues. If you have any questions surrounding hearing – loss then please feel free to either ask me on here or send me a private message and I will get back to you as soon as I can. If you would like more information on hearing issues then do make sure you check out the UK’s top charity for those with hearing loss – Action on Hearing Loss