There may be some small changes to your service provision that can make a big difference for deaf and hard of hearing people. Remembering that 1-in-7 of the population as a whole will be deaf to some degree. North Lanarkshire with its industrial past and aging population this number may well be higher and more close to 1-in-5. That’s a high percentage of your service users!
Following a few simple guidelines will increase the accessibility of your services …
- Keep your face in good light and face the person who’s deaf. A light source will cast a shadow on your face making lip-reading difficult.
- Keep your face clear at all times. Hands, cigarettes and untrimmed beards & moustaches also make lip-reading difficult.
- Speak clearly. Do not exaggerate your mouth movements and do not shout, this distorts your lip-patterns.
- Cut out as much background noise as possible, e.g. close windows, turn off TVs etc. Hearing aids pick up and amplify all sounds. Remember, ‘visual noise’ has to be considered as well!
- Use the most common form of words and do not change from one topic of conversation to another as this confuses a lip-reader.
- If you are not understood, try re-phrasing what you said or write it down if appropriate.
- If another person joins the conversation, indicate to the deaf person who is now speaking.
- It may also be useful to use some gestures when explaining things. Remember, gestures and normal facial expressions form part of good communication.