Deaf: Etiquettes of communication

I have always wondered how other people view Hearing Impaired or deaf people. Usually, when people get to know I am deaf, they become stunned that I can talk. I have noticed that many people are curious to talk with me. However, they do not know how to start a conversation.

In the first place, I would like to give you pointers. We would be comfortable, and we can break the ice sooner than you think. Even though we don hearing aids or cochlear implants, you do not have to yell. There is no point in screeching at us. It makes us uncomfortable, and it would not help us. All you can do is speak at your normal voice at a regular speed. If the deaf person you are communicating with has some difficulty in following you. You can either slow down and talk or write on a piece of paper, type on your phone. The possibilities are endless. In this generation, most of the hearing impaired children are learning to talk with clarity. However, you have to keep in mind if you are meeting for the first time, you have to give time for the deaf user to get used to your movement of the lips.

Since we lip-read, and if you close your mouth. We would miss half of the information you just told us.

Pursing the topic further when people find out I can lip-read. They try to air talk. They try to over-enunciate their lip movements without using their voice. It is a necessity while communicating with you. I would appreciate it if you do not test me. I would be polite the first time because you are amazed by my ability to lip-read.

While conversing with a deaf person, please do not cover your mouth. Since we lip-read, and if you close your mouth, we would miss half of the information you just told us. We can not identify certain sounds, nor we can not understand the words. Before you ask if hearing aids help us. The hearing aids help us to identify the sounds occurring in the environment. But it is not helpful when it comes to speech. So we rely on lip movements. It would be convenient if you do not cover your mouth.

Eye contact is a must while you communicate with us. For instance, if I am talking with anyone, I lip-read. But I also look at their eyes and their overall posture. Maintaining eye contact would help you know the deaf person has any difficulties in following you. It also reminds you that you have to face us and talk. We will become comfortable with you as long as you maintain eye contact and speak.

In case if we do not understand you. Please make sure that you repeat yourself. Slow down and talk until we get some familiarity with your lip movements. I have come across people who had to repeat a few times because I could not follow their lip movements. In the end, they say "never mind. It is not important." Please do not do that, it leaves us feeling frustrated. Instead, use your phone or a paper to deliver what we missed.

To wrap it all up, if you could follow these etiquettes, we would be happy and thankful. However, you need to remember that you have to give us time to respond. Be patient because we are trying so hard to process what you have stated. As long as the person is casual with you, you can go at regular speed, but please do the above things mentioned. Best of luck.