Understanding communicating with deaf people.

When you meet someone who is deaf and what to do.

Understanding communicating with deaf people is not that hard. However many people struggle with this, and so what would you do, is the first poser, and then I will lead onto some tips.? I’ve been deaf for a long time now. In the end, they are just people, like you and me.

If you can picture yourself in a situation where this may happen to you.It could be anywhere,a bar,a sports club,a restaurant or anywhere you can think of.

What would be your immediate reaction,especially if the deaf person made the attempt to start a conversation in the first place and having told you his or her predicament and that they where reliant on lip-reading?

For example, ” excuse me, but I am deaf and I have to lip read OK.” In my case my speech is perfect and I do not sound deaf.

Don’t be shy I’m trying to get to the bottom of this as it has happened to me in my life and I’m not shy about this.

Please give an honest assessment.If people don’t tell you.How can you begin to fight and overcome this.

Come on and have a go,honestly there’s no harm done as I’m just trying to get a debate going.

Would you run, talk to the deaf or hide?
Pen and paper or cellphone.
In my experience it is a combination of all three and why this is so I am still not sure of. 

Essentially, people fall broadly into three categories.

Firstly, you get a very small percentage who from the first minute of meeting you are completely at ease with your circumstances.

Secondly and this is by far the most prevalent category, you get people who are embarrassed and really have no idea but their better nature wants to talk to you.

Even though I have an easy going nature and am not and never have been shy, not everybody can do this. So once they start talking to you especially in company, they are very conscious and believe others are watching which is not necessarily true. There comes a time when you miss a word and you say to them; ” just spell it in the air.” By that I don’t mean sign language, just using a finger to spell it in the air. Most are reluctant to do this.

However after time when they know you better and you are talking to somebody else and say the same thing, a funny thing happens. The person who when you first met them could not do this, now quite happily spells it for you. Eavesdropping is a very bad thing hey!

This always makes me happy and proud, that I could change people’s perceptions and stigma’s on this subject.

Lastly the third category and you might be surprised how many fit into this, is. They just can’t do it, for whatever reasons. They could well be people who have seen you grow up as a child or people who were your friends prior to your mishap. They just can’t do it. They might well think very highly of you as a person. They just can’t do it.
There’s so much more as well, bring out a pad and pencil, write a message on your cellphone

I hasten to add that I am completely non-judgemental on all of this. Each to his own.

However I will keep fighting to change this.

Getting Nowhere.
Still getting nowhere with this piece, why? Is it because I’m intruding on people’s sensitivity? Or is it because they do not want to put something bad down because they think then other people will judge them harshly?

I’m going to repeat, just be honest because I fervently believe that reasonable and sane people could have such an impact on the world, if only they would say what they feel.

Doesn’t mean you are right or wrong. If I said ” I like George Bush, do you?”. I’m almost positive to get a response. Do you get my meaning?

So have a say even if it’s BAD. Remember this is all about trying to help the deaf. The more that people are made aware of what the deaf encounter, then the more people can do about breaking these stigma’s.

A deaf mans tips on talking with the deaf.

The first most important thing to understand is. It’s impossible to lip read every word. Consequently the deaf person is getting the gist of what you are saying, and it’s all he has to go on. 

Secondly, many words formed lip reading are exactly the same. I was going to say sound, and in a way that is true as well. Put simply, a hearing person will hear, Pete as Pete, meat as meat, and beat as beat. To the deaf person lip reading however, they are all the same. Feel and Veal are other classic examples. So do not persist with trying to repeat the word, rather put it in another sentence. A lot of jokes come from the deaf saying the wrong thing. Now you know why. Patience is a virtue, but with the deaf one needs to go into a different dimension.

Be calm, be relaxed, they know how tense you are feeling. Slow your speech down and be as expressive as you can, with your hands and especially with your eyes. I sometimes think I am lip reading more from the eyes than the lips. Women are great at this, but men find it more difficult.

So for me this means, take of your sunglasses, or just lift them up for the short while you are talking. Many of these things seem self evident to me. I guess I’ve just forgotten what it was like in the beginning. Take out whatever is between your lips be it a cigarette, matchstick, or ballpoint pen. Slow your speech down, just in case you’ve forgotten. Don’t turn your head away, or down, what you don’t see you don’t lip read.

But more, more than anything else. A huge no no here. Whatever you do. Do not change the subject matter without letting the deaf person know. Mentally they will still be geared to what you were talking about and can’t get the change in topic. So there is a start for you all.

So then, the next time you meet a deaf person, would you run, talk, or hide?

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About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
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2 Responses to Understanding communicating with deaf people.

  1. Simon Shee says:

    In her later years my mother was profoundly deaf and she found this very frustrating as she was a very sociable person. She found large gatherings particularly difficult because several conversations would be occurring simultaneously. I always found that I would have to ensure that I faced her and spoke clearly, concisely and sloooowly so that she could hear what I was saying. I tend to talk rather fast and have sloppy diction so it was a real trial for me to slow down and take the time to communicate. However it was always worthwhile.

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