In honor of Deaf Awareness Month, we’re offering some ways that local government professionals can help their deaf residents and community.
Ten Tips to Remember When Communicating With a Deaf Person
(from the Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre)
- Face the person and make eye contact when speaking.
- Every individual has their preference. Be sure to ask the Deaf or hard of hearing person for ways to improve communication.
- Do not yell or talk loudly and do not mumble
- Do not over emphasize your facial expressions or lip movements as this can reduce communication
- If the person prefers to use speech-reading, speak normally and avoid speaking too slow or too fast.
- If you use written communication, make sure you are understood.
- Pictures and other visual aids may be helpful.
- Avoid excess background noise.
- Be patient and relaxed.
- Take advantage of technology by typing back and forth on a computer screen, using email, instant messenger or text messaging.
If you’re ready to try some basic ASL (American Sign Language), and can’t find local classes, there are useful videos on YouTube.
You can print a free copy of the ASL alphabet poster above from American Society for Deaf Children’s website.
The National Association for the Deaf has a list of resources that may be helpful for you, and to share with your deaf residents.
Police in New York have distributed communication cards for deaf drivers with pictures to help during interactions. There also are similar cards for officers to carry.
Finally, it’s important to note that a person using ASL may not necessarily be deaf. ASL is used by many people who can’t verbally communicate.