Deaf and hard-of-hearing people often experience some pretty strange questions and comments from hearing people. To tackle some of those questions, we've made a list of 7 things Deaf people want hearing people to know. Check it out!
1. Lip reading isn't easy!
Statistically, people who read lips only understand about 30 percent of what's being said, and a lot of meaning is gathered purely from context. Everyone speaks differently, some people have accents or mustaches, while others don't move their mouth much while speaking, so it shouldn't be assumed that a deaf person can read your lips. Feel free to use other ways to communicate such as with a pen and paper or a phone.
2. Don't play games with a person's deafness
Deaf people don't appreciate others "playing games" with their deafness. Doing things like covering your mouth to test whether they will be able to understand you or yelling "Can you hear me now?" just aren't funny, so don't try it.
3. Don't make fun of sign language
"Oh I know sign language! *flips the middle finger*" PLEASE don't do this. Sign language is an important part of Deaf culture and shouldn't be made fun of. Why not ask if they can teach you a few signs instead?
4. Not all deaf people know sign language
Following on from the last point, not all people who are deaf know how to sign. 90% of people who are born deaf are born into hearing families and many of them aren't given the opportunity to learn sign language growing up. Everyone is different, some may decide they don't want to learn sign language, and others may be trying to learn later on in life.
5. Meet somewhere with good lighting
Having a conversation in a place with good lighting will greatly help someone who is Deaf or hard of hearing to understand what you're saying. Trying to have a conversation in a dimly lit pub isn't going to work very well. Lip reading and facial expressions can play an important role in communication for a deaf person. So if they can't see your face, chances are they're not going to understand what you're saying either.
6. Not all deaf people are the same
Hearing loss is a spectrum, everyone is different and has different types of hearing loss. There are also many different terms for deafness including Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing. Someone may prefer to be identified by a particular term and be offended by another term, so the best option is to ask!
7. Lack of hearing doesn't mean lack of intelligence or ability
This really goes without saying, but Deaf people can do anything a hearing person can do, except hear. Deaf people are completely capable of leading a quality life, they can drive, have a job and have successful relationships. To think that someone is "dumb" because of their hearing loss is offensive.