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How to Communicate with Deaf or Hard of Hearing People



Many people who can hear adequately end up getting frustrated when trying to speak with the deaf or hard-of-hearing; however, there are things that you can do to make the process easier for both you and those that you are talking to.  These include several verbal and non-verbal improvements, as well as altering your environment and even changing your physical appearance.  Let’s have a look at some of the things that you can do.

Physical and Environmental Improvements

Some deaf people are very good at lip reading and very good at speaking, so how do you know whether they are deaf or not?  The simple answer sometimes is that you do not know unless they tell you.  It can be, at times, awkward talking to a deaf person, especially if you have a mustache.  This can make it hard for a deaf or hard-of-hearing person to see your lips, so remember to keep it trimmed at all times.

To talk to a deaf person, do make sure that you have caught the deaf person’s attention before making any effort to communicate with the person.  The best way usually to do this is to make eye contact with the person, but at the same time, do not go up to a deaf person and approach them physically as this can startle them.  You might also want to carry a notepad and pen with you and make sure that if you are in a group that only one person speaks at once.

Verbal and Non Verbal Improvements

Once you have the attention of your deaf counterpart, it is time to talk to them properly, so how do you go about doing this?  Firstly, do not be nervous or feel awkward as this will make the deaf person feel the same.  Always remaining in the deaf person’s field of vision is a good thing to do as they can see your lips and facial movements at all times.  This will help them to decipher what you are saying.  If she is sitting on a chair, then you should sit on a chair so that you are both on the same level; if she is standing, stand yourself.

Do not try to talk to her exaggeratedly and do not speak slower than usual unless she requests you too.  Speak as though you were talking to your mum or dad and do not over exaggerate your mouth movements as this can make it more difficult for a deaf person to understand you even though you may think you are helping.  You don’t necessarily need to learn sign language to speak to those who are hard-of-hearing; however, doing so can help you both immensely.