There are a range of methods of communication for deaf people or those with hearing loss.

  • • Some will use sign language such as sign supported English or British Sign Language
  • • Lip reading and spoken English
  • • Note takers
  • • Speech to text reporters
  • • Electronic note takers

Communicating with someone who is deaf requires some thought and patience but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Action on Hearing Loss (2014) provides the following useful guidelines for communicating with deaf people:

  • • Even if someone is wearing hearing aids it doesn’t mean they can hear you perfectly. Ask if they need to lip read.
  • • If you are using communication support, always remember to talk directly to the person you are communicating with, not the interpreter.
  • • Make sure you have face-to-face contact with the person you are talking to.
  • • Get the listener’s attention before you start speaking, maybe by waving or tapping them on the arm.
  • • Speak clearly but not too slowly, and don’t exaggerate your lip movements - this can make it harder to lip read.
  • • Use natural facial expressions and gestures.
  • • If you’re talking to a group that includes deaf and hearing people, don’t just focus on the hearing people.
  • • Don’t shout. It can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users and it looks aggressive.
  • • If someone doesn’t understand what you’ve said, don’t keep repeating it, try saying it in a different way instead.
  • • Find a suitable place to talk, with good lighting and away from noise and distractions.
  • • Check that the person you’re talking to is following you during the conversation. Use plain language and don’t waffle. Avoid jargon and unfamiliar abbreviations.
  • • To make it easy to lip read, don’t cover your mouth with your hands or clothing.


Nine key points to take away from Chapter 3:

  • • interpersonal communication is the communication that takes place between people and interpersonal skills are what we need to communicate effectively.
  • • The understanding of language, both verbal and non-verbal, is a subjective experience, dependent on context.
  • • When considering the importance of verbal communication with people in health and social care settings we need to be aware of the impact of our choice of language on them.
  • • Non-verbal communication such as clothes and general appearance, eye contact, posture / body language, facial expressions, gestures, interpersonal space, touch and smell, are all important ways of communicating meaning.
  • • The environment communicates directly to people in health and social care settings and can have an impact on the way that we communicate with those within that environment.
  • • Britain is a culturally rich and diverse society and health and social care services have to respond to the needs of this society through practices which both value the diversity and address the linguistic and cultural needs of the population.
  • • Cultural differences have an impact on communication. It is important to be aware of how different cultures might interpret spoken language and body language.
  • • In order to work ethically and communicate effectively, we need to avoid stereotypes and remember that each person is a unique individual.
  • • We need to work in partnership with interpreters to ensure that every person has equal access to services, regardless of ethnicity or language spoken.
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