Deaf Awareness Week

Next week is Deaf Awareness Week – an initiative that aims to promote social inclusion and highlight the positive aspects of deafness.  

1 in 6 people are affected by hearing loss, and in the UK, more than 2 million people have hearing aids. It’s especially common as we age; 41% of over 50s have some form of hearing loss.

Communication barriers as a result of deafness can be isolating for sufferers – lack of confidence, exclusion from society, depression and unemployment are all common challenges.

Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity for people to learn more about how to better support those with hearing loss.

Be deaf aware 

There’s plenty you can do to support deaf people in your community and help them feel included at work and in social situations. Here’s some simple pointers to remember:

  • Get their attention – Make sure you have the attention of the person before you start speaking to them. Otherwise, they may not catch what you’re saying.
  • Choose the right setting – The best place for communication is one with good lighting and as little background noise as possible to hear and understand conversation.
  • Use plain language – Plain language, normal lip movements and facial expressions make it easier for a person who’s deaf to understand you. Speak slowly and in a straightforward way.
  • Watch your volume – Shouting can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users. Speak at a regular volume instead.
  • Check they understand – Make sure you check the person understands what you’re saying. If not, try saying it again or in a different way. Never say ‘don’t worry about it’ or dismiss the conversation – this can make them feel excluded and isolated.

Try British Sign Language

In addition to speech and lipreading, many deaf people also rely on British Sign Language to communicate. It’s a combination of hand shapes and movements, facial expressions, shoulder movements and lip patterns.

If you’re interested in learning, you can find great resources online through the charity British Sign.

Fingerspelling_Poster_2016 copy

Are you deaf or struggle with hearing loss? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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19th May 2017
Thanks for voting!
I really get annoyed with the adverts for hearing aids, saying they are so discrete....why should they be....people wear glasses there is no shame in that or using a crutch if you have a broken leg!

And the government should do something about the price, far too expensive and bloomin smart phone is cheaper and does more. I have read these smart phones are going to have an App,for the people who need help.
19th May 2017
Thanks for voting!
I have a hearing impairment in both ears. I wear bilateral Hearing Aids. Hearing aids are not a cure for hearing loss. My hearing loss will never be restored to me and is likely to get worse over time. Hearing aids amplify all sound, and they can help me to hear sounds, but not in the same way as if I was hearing normally, like you perhaps.
With Hearing Aids, all sound is amplified, not just speech. The aids that I have are quite high tech, in that in some circumstances, they can help reduce a little background and surrounding noise, but not all. I struggle every day. It is especially difficult when I am on the phone. Increasing the volume on the phone is not the answer to that problem, just in case you might think that is obvious, as it can distort the clarity and also depends on the callers speech, accent and speed of speech.
Clarity, not volume, is the big issue for me and for most deaf people. It’s a constant strain trying to make out what is being said. We are all different with our speech; some are quietly spoken, some loudly spoken, different accents, different speed of speech etc. I try to lip read (I have no skills in this) which in itself is extremely difficult and an additional strain. For most deaf people, if we can’t see you, then we will have difficulty hearing you. Guessing what people say is something I often try to do, but it is easy to get it wrong, and that could lead to misunderstandings.
If I don’t know someone is trying to talk to me, then they shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t get a response, the point there being that the speaker needs to have my attention to give me a fighting chance of hearing what is said. It doesn’t help just to keep shouting my name out louder and louder, particularly if the speaker is standing behind me, or to the side, or they have their back to me, or there are obstructions in between, as that just causes frustration for them and great embarrassment for me. I find myself apologising for not hearing quite a lot.
Hearing impairment does not show itself visibly, and I know from my own experiences, that being ‘Deaf Aware’ is not an easy thing to be conscious of all of the time. Managing my impairment is so very difficult for me, however, as the saying goes, ‘every little helps’.
Deaf Awareness is something that can really make a big difference to all people with hearing loss, and for me, it might just mean that I can go to bed at night not feeling mentally and sometimes physically exhausted and frustrated, due to the effort I have to put in to barely hear.
19th May 2017
Thanks for voting!
Thank you for putting into words how I feel everyday. You have expressed beautifully what life is like for those of us who wear hearing aids. Would it be ok for me to copy and paste your comment to my Facebook status, I would not include your photo or user name, but would just say, "This applies to me too"? Thank you, best wishes. Sue.
19th May 2017
Thanks for voting!
Hello Sue. Thank you for your response to my comment. It took a while for the penny to drop and for me to realise I had a serious hearing impairment. The tests I underwent proved I had a mild to moderate loss on one ear and moderate to severe in the other. I had struggled for a long time without actually realising it. It soon became clear that not only would I have to live with the impairment, but so would my husband, my family, my friends, and my working colleagues. That's what prompted me to put finger to keyboard, just 12 months ago, and write the words above, which I shared with everyone in my life. I had a hugely positive response from my working colleagues and it certainly made a big difference at work, although I retired at the beginning of the year.
My husband, family and friends have been brilliant with their awareness, but they do occasionally forget, as I'm sure I would as well, so I give gentle reminders now and again.
If you think my words can help you in some way, then I have no problem at all In you sharing them.
I wish you well and hope life is Improving for you. Best wishes, Karen.
29th Jan 2017
Thanks for voting!
I have tinitus and find that not is done for us such as the B B C and I T V you set your hearing level to hear the program and when the adverts come up they go very loud very annoying

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