Being deaf is a part of my identity and it is something that makes me, me. In life, I have been faced with many challenges, particularly with communication and this has become much more apparent during Covid-19. The use of face masks has made life much more difficult for those who are hearing impaired or deaf completing simple tasks, for example going to the supermarket or post office. I felt it was important to share with you all some top tips and mention a few myth busters which may be of help in the future.
General top tips to remember
- Make sure you face us when you are speaking, we need to see your face to lipread
- Don’t turn your back on us, we need to see your face
- Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself more than once if you are misunderstood – we appreciate you taking the time. If we still don’t understand what you have said after a number of tries, find another way to communicate if it is important, this can be done through texting, gesturing or writing down words on a bit of paper.
- If you call our name and we don’t react, we aren’t ignoring you, we just simply cannot hear. In order to get our attention, feel free to tap us on the shoulder, wave or politely ask someone else nearby to stop us and alert us that you are calling.
This top tip is relevant during Covid-19 times…
- If you speak to someone with a face mask on and they let you know they are hearing impaired or deaf, take a step back (maintain 2m distance), remove your mask and repeat what was said so they are able to lipread and see your facial expression. If you are uncomfortable with taking your mask off, then feel free to gesture or write down the information made on your smartphone in your notes section for them to read.
- If you are on a zoom or teams call where a hearing impaired or deaf individual is present, it helps a great deal if you put your camera on when talking and face it directly, this allows us to lipread you (providing the internet connection is good).
- Not all deaf people can sign
- Some hearing impaired/deaf people can hear and choose to listen to music
- Deaf people can drive (once they’ve passed their test obviously)
The Accessibility and Inclusion Service offers a range of support for deaf and hearing-impaired students, including BSL interpretation, help for taking notes in lectures, assistive technology and more. If you are deaf or hearing-impaired and would like support, please contact the Student Hub.
Are you a hearing person, unsure how to talk to deaf or hearing-impaired students on your course? Check out these short videos made by young deaf people: Look, smile, chat – Films ⋆ The Buzz