General top five tips on how to communicate with a Deaf individual
1. Relax. Be yourself; do not go overboard when meeting a Deaf individual. Get the Deaf person’s attention and make eye contact. To get their attention, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand.
2. Speak slowly and normally, but do not exaggerate. Use facial expressions and gestures while talking and they should match the words being spoken. Do not move around while talking. Avoid standing in front of lighting and make sure there’s enough light so that the individual can see your face clearly. Do not cover your mouth or have objects in your mouth while talking. Talk to the individual themselves, not who they are with. (Interpreters, parents, etc)
3. If the person does not understand you the first time, try to rephrase your statements (for example, “What would you like to drink?” could become “Would you like water or pop?”) Please stay on the same topic of conversation. If you change topics, notify the Deaf individual. NEVER pretend you know what they are saying. Ask for clarification or write things down.
4. If the Deaf individual asks for paper and pen, please provide it to them. Keep sentences short and simple. If they ask for other means of communication, try to accommodate them the best you can (computers, cell phones, emails, etc).
5. Let the Deaf individual know about their environment and surroundings. For example, if someone’s at the door or the phone rings, please let them know and excuse yourself. Do not carry on conversations in front of them without including the individual.
The list above is the top five common communication tips for the Deaf. If you are interested or want to find out more, please feel free to search on your own.
If you would like to learn more about this topic or if you have resources to offer, please contact us.