Group of young people

Top tips for including your deaf friends or colleagues in conversation

Guest post from Vicki Kirwin. Development Manager for Audiology and Health at the National Deaf Children’s Society.

This week (19 – 25 May) is Deaf Awareness Week and it provides us with an extra opportunity to highlight the importance of good communication. Scope’s End The Awkward campaign is also a brilliant platform to raise awareness of the issues many disabled people face on a daily basis.

Thousands of deaf teenagers have told the National Deaf Children’s Society that improving their friends’ understanding of deafness and finding ways to communicate is really important to them.

There are 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK and many go to a mainstream school where very often they are the only deaf person in that school. This means some of their classmates don’t know how to communicate with deaf children. More than three in four teenagers who have not met a deaf person told us they have no idea how to start a conversation with a deaf child or young person. These communication barriers can make socialising and school life tough for some deaf young people.

A couple of years ago we worked with deaf young people to produce our Look, Smile, Chat Campaign, to help deaf and hearing teenagers communicate with each other. We produced lots of great resources and you can find these at the link below. The best part is that, just as End The Awkward highlights, a small change to the way you communicate with a deaf person can make a really big difference.

Our top tips for helping to include your deaf friends or colleagues in conversation are:

  • Remember to include deaf people in your conversation
  • Make sure the person you are talking to knows what you are talking about
  • Face the person when you are talking to them and stay still so that a deaf person can lip-read you
  • Talk normally, not slowly
  • If you’re in a group, talk one at a time
  • Be creative with your communication. There are lots of ways to chat, you could write it down or text for instance

We all like to communicate and join in conversations, so this week get involved in Deaf Awareness Week and help break down the communication barriers that many deaf people experience every day. You too can End The Awkward.

Visit Look Smile Chat for further information and resources.

Find out more about Ending the awkward at work.

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