Deaf Awareness Week
1 in 6 people have hearing loss, meaning that more people might be struggling to hear you than you think. As part of our disability service at Fostering People we have cared for profoundly deaf children, but in our latest blog find out how to communicate better with people who although can hear, may stuggle to hear you completely.
Deaf Awareness Week
Did you know that 1 in 6 people in the UK have hearing loss? It's a really large percentage of the population and as part of our disability service at Fostering People we care for deaf children too.
Hearing loss can be mild right through to complete deafness - and I'm delighted to see that the organisers of this week's campaign - the UK Council on Deafness (UKCoD) have produced a great list of tips to help us all communicate better with those who suffer from hearing loss.
- Face the person while you are speaking, don't turn away.
- Repeat yourself if necessary.
- Never say 'it doesn't matter'.
- If the person doesn't understand you, don't give up!
- Write it down or draw a picture.
- Speak one at a time, don't talk over each other.
- Keep your mouth visible.
- Smile and relax.
- Don't speak too quickly or too slowly.
Why do I think these tips are so important?
I've been completely deaf in my left ear since birth, and I can't tell you how many times, I've heard the expression 'oh...it doesn't matter' when I've asked pardon? for the second time, I've found it incredibly frustrating, and at times undermining.
My deafness wasn't picked up until the age of 7 years old, as I could lip read. It was only my overly nasalled speech that finally got doctors asking questions, before this only my mum believed something wasn't right.
Lip reading is incredibly important to many people who have hearing loss and I can't express enough how important it is to keep your month visible. In fact, I didn't realise how much I still relied on lip reading until the pandemic hit. Face coverings have proved incredibly difficult and I often have to ask people to repeat themselves several times when in shops and I sense the sales staff's growing exasperation when I have to ask them again!
As an adult I've learnt to deal with all the little annoyances', but for children and young people it can be a difficult path not to feel excluded. Remember in most cases, deaf people don't look deaf. In fact my hearing actually works in both ears and my lack of hearing is due to brain damage. I have a cochlear implant, but most people are completely unaware it's there, as it's hidden by my long hair.
But many people with hearing loss wear no hearing aid at all.
Let's use Deaf Awareness Week just to be mindful that any person - child or adult that we come into contact with might not be able to hear perfectly. In fact there is a 1 in 6 chance that they don't. Let's make a small change, be mindful to look at people when talking to them, keep your mouth visable when restrictions allow and if someone asks you to repeat yourself, be patient and don't slow down your speech - unless it's naturally very fast. These small changes will make a huge difference to how you make a deaf person feel.