To mark Deaf Awareness Week (3 - 9 May) and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic resulting in the need to wear face masks, we thought it was important to remind people of the impact this has on people with hearing impairments. For someone who relies heavily on lip reading, masks create a major communication barrier.
To raise awareness, we have put together some helpful tips on how we can be more deaf aware:
- Find a place to talk that has good lighting, away from noise and distractions.
- Make sure the person is looking at you before you start speaking.
- Turn your face towards them so they can easily see your lip movements.
- Speak clearly but not too slowly.
- Speak normally and use facial expressions and gestures.
- Use simple, clear sentences at a reasonable pace (not too fast, no muttering and avoid covering face)
- Beware if there is accompanying background noise it can often drown out the speaker’s voice.
- If the person has difficulty understanding, try to rephrase a sentence or if all else fails, write it down.
To comply with coronavirus face coverings, we have purchased a number of clear, plastic face shields for staff when working or communicating with service users and residents that are deaf or hard of hearing. The transparent face shields mean that the person's mouth and lips are clearly visible, allowing the people you interact with to lip read.
The Deaf Health Charity 'Sign Health' is committed to removing barriers and making positive changes, to ensure the good health and wellbeing of Deaf people. On their website you can find some great resources and helpful information about how we can provide better support to Deaf people.
Take a look at their poster with some key points to remember: