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17 May 2017

Deaf Awareness Week 2017

Tammy Kirk is a Support Worker at NCHA's Fisher Lane project in Mansfield, which provides services to deaf people and those with hearing impairments. In this article she discusses Deaf Awareness Week and how to communicate with deaf people.

"You may think that Deaf Awareness Week doesn't apply to you, but it is possible that you will come across people that have hearing difficulties or are profoundly deaf one day. There are as many as 900,000 people in the UK who are hard of hearing or profoundly deaf.

"Even though they maybe deaf or hard of hearing they live ordinary lives just like you and I - they have homes to look after, have children and families, go to work, have passions, ambitions, feelings and emotions.

"When you come across someone who is deaf/hard of hearing try not to feel awkward or totally avoid communicating with them. How you handle this situation can have a big impact on a deaf person you meet.

"My daughter goes to university and she comes across many deaf students. She has a part time job in a supermarket where again she meets deaf people on a regular basis. One day when she got frustrated that she couldn’t speak to them and give them the information they could benefit from, she decided to try learning some basic signs so she can make life easier for herself and them when she meets them again.

"Given the amount of deaf/hard of hearing people there are in the UK you will no doubt come across someone at some point - this could be waiting for a bus, in a supermarket, at the doctors surgery, at the gym or even at work.

"Here at NCHA we have a project, Fisher Lane in Mansfield, that supports deaf tenants. Some staff there are also deaf/hard of hearing.

"Learning some simple techniques can have a big impact when you meet a deaf/hard of hearing person. I have detailed a few below.

  1. Tapping the person on the shoulder to get their attention is a normal thing to do and is acceptable in the deaf world in order to gain their attention.
  2. Be aware of where you are standing to make it easy for a deaf person to try to read your lips when you speak. Make sure the light isn’t behind you as this will restrict the person's vision.
  3. You don’t need to shout! Simply make sure you speak words clearly, making it easier for the person you are communicating with to lip read.

"You don’t need to go on a sign language course, however being aware of the basic tips above will hopefully assist when you are trying to communicate with a deaf person and will help them to feel more involved.

"Should you wish to learn more signs there are plenty of videos on youtube, simply learning the alphabet can assist!

"Remember...

  • How do deaf people feel? They are ordinary people with a hearing problem!
  • Deaf people want to be accepted just like you and I... how you deal with this situation has a massive impact on how they react/feel.
  • Be more deaf aware - you can make a difference to someone’s day!
  • There's a useful guide to communicating in the workplace on the Action on Hearing Loss website."