This might sound really obvious, but communication issues are the biggest challenges for hard-of-hearing people. Over the past year of blogging as Deafie Blogger, I’ve encountered many situations where deaf people have been let down by the system and can lead to endless frustration.
How can everyone be more aware to the needs of deaf individuals? Here are my 4 tips for Deaf Awareness Week:
Talking on the telephone can be very difficult for people with hearing loss. Ask people which communication method they prefer, and provide alternative methods if necessary, such as email or live chat.
Try and make an effort to include deaf people, don’t treat them like second class citizens. This includes making sure they receive the right support at school, work and other situations where they might need extra help to feel comfortable in their surroundings. If you don’t know what they need, don’t be afraid to ask what would help them, rather than assuming. Talk to them like a friend, rather than a parent or caretaker.
If youre finding communication continues to be a problem, try finding other ways of explaining yourself. Don’t just say “never mind” or repeat the same sentence over and over again. Some levels of hearing loss make it difficult to hear certain words or phrases because of the way the words sound. Try rephrasing your sentence to be clearer and more direct. Or offer alternative solutions when explaining something, such as captioned videos or written material.
People with hearing loss aren’t the only ones with hearing challenges. Listening is a skill, and it’s important to practice good listening skills with everyone. Don’t assume you know what the person’s talking about or take over a situation. Take the time to really listen and find out the real issue. Then, find a solution.
Although these tips are aimed at increasing deaf awareness. Looking at the wider picture of an all-inclusive society, a few simple steps can go a long way in bridging divides and helping to make millions of isolated people feel more included.
If you have any deaf awareness tips, please comment them below. I’d love to hear them!