Communicating is part of our daily lives. It may be easy for you to communicate but this is not the case for individuals who are deaf or who have a hard time hearing. Due to their limitations, they often feel isolated since their form of communication differs from hearing people. Being deaf aware makes a big difference and it helps remove barriers such as stigma and discrimination. So let’s all do our part and do our best to understand the deaf culture.
Remember, deafness is a spectrum. Degrees of hearing loss varies from person to person — some are not able to hear all, while some may hear with the help of assistive listening devices. In addition to this, a deaf person communicates in various ways such as sign language, lip-reading, and interpreters.
Be observant, people often don’t realize when someone is deaf. When someone appears to be ignoring you, asks you to repeat words, or looks confused while conversing. These are some signs that they may be deaf or have a hard time hearing. Be patient when communicating with them, they are doing their best so we should too.
Deaf people are exerting a lot of energy to communicate and continue conversations with hearing people. Lip reading is one way to do this, but it is not easy. So when communicating with them make sure to speak clearly, slowly, and steadily. There’s no need to exaggerate your words since this makes it harder for them to understand. Of course, you have to make sure your mouth is not covered! But if there’s a need to wear a mask, transparent masks such as the Jelli M1 are also available.
When your gestures, facial expressions, and words are not helping you communicate. Don’t hesitate to use pen and paper, or simply your phone to augment your communication. Writing can help especially if you are having difficulty explaining something.
Take note, that deaf people have different communication needs. One way you can help them is by using transparent face masks especially if they rely on lipreading and sign language. Transparent masks are helpful since it makes lipreading achievable without risking each other’s safety. Of course, other than that, it’s best to just ask that person for suggestions in improving the way you communicate. Everyone is different and we all have limitations, so let us not isolate the deaf community.