Rachael Beech from Royal National Institute for Deaf People tells us about Deaf Awareness Week and what we can all do to help.
Royal National Institute for Deaf People, RNID, are a charity that supports people who are deaf, have hearing loss and tinnitus and we would like to inform you about Deaf Awareness Week, which is an annual event and falls in the first week of May. We would like to take the opportunity to raise awareness about deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus during this week and explain how you can support people you work with.
There are 12 million people who are deaf or have hearing loss which means that one in five adults in the UK is directly affected, you are likely to meet someone every day, even though you might not be aware of it. People who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus face different communication challenges that can lead to frustration and loneliness.
HOW WE CAN ALL HELP
To accommodate people’s communication needs, you should ask someone how best you can communicate with them. Not every tip below will be appropriate for every person who is deaf or has hearing loss. Remember, people who rely on facial expressions and lipreading to communicate are finding communication especially difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These tips are particularly important when you are speaking to someone on the telephone or are wearing a mask or face covering:
- Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly – avoid shouting, speaking too fast or unnecessarily slow.
- If someone doesn’t understand you, repeat what you said or phrase it differently and use plain language.
- If you are in a noisy place, move to a quieter area if possible.
- Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention.
- Write things down – use a pen on paper, text on device screens, or whiteboards.
- If they ask you to, speak to a relative or friend.
COMMUNICATION USING DIGITAL RESOURCES
If you work from home, you might find it useful to talk to your colleagues about how they can best communicate with you over video and voice calls. It may be helpful to share these tips:
- If on a video call, make sure you are in a well-lit area but don’t sit with a light source behind you. This can put your face into shadow and make it harder for someone to lipread.
- Face the camera and don’t cover your mouth while speaking.
- Make sure that only one person is speaking at a time. This can also help make sure captions are more accurate if they are used.
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking to reduce background noise.
- Make use of chat functions that might exist when using video or voice software. They can help to clarify details, especially with numbers.
- Use an agenda and stick to the order to provide context for what is said.
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION
Our RNID website has many valuable tips and information including our new hearing check. The hearing check will suggest if your hearing is in a normal range or if you may have hearing loss. The online hearing check is different from a full hearing test carried out by an audiologist, but it’s a quick and reliable way to find out if you need one and direct you to see your GP. Unaddressed hearing loss impacts on social isolation, mental and physical health, including depression and dementia and early detection is important.
You can also:
- Take our free hearing check – RNID
- Visit the RNID website
- Share and like our content on our social media channels. Don’t forget to use a DAW hashtag – #DeafAwarenessWeek or #DAW2022 – and #BeDeafAware
- Post on your personal LinkedIn account, sharing useful communication and meeting tips with your network – you can use the template below!
- If you are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus, create and share your own digital communication card to help you advocate for your own unique communication needs and everyone can encourage others to create their own communication card
- Tell your friends and family how you are being deaf aware and direct them to the resources on our website
If you are interested in learning more or would like RNID to give a short session about Deaf Awareness or the work of RNID, please get in contact.
Development Officer, Wales