Family and Visitors

Section A – The Family

Section B – Visitors to the house

  • In general
  • Safety issues

· When you are expecting someone you know

· Expected visitors that you do not know by sight

· Unexpected visitors

This is a short chapter because a lot of relevant strategies can be found in most other chapters such as Chapter 1, Section 40 : Helpful tips for anyone who speaks to deaf peopleChapter 4: Crowded Rooms, etc.

For information about environmental aids which may be helpful in these situations, see Chapter 6: Environmental Aids and Strategies

A. The family

1. Some people said that they think that it is important that their family understand the problems that they face because of their deafness and that both the deaf person and the families are patient with each other. 

2. One person said, “I feel that it is important that the husband/wife/children, etc, get into the habit of attracting the deaf person’s attention before speaking. My wife always calls me by name before starting to speak and that gets my attention better than anything else. The advantage for her is that she does not have to keep on repeating herself.”

3. In bed, I always lie with my good ear next to my husband.

4. My wife has a sign to say “I love you” in the dark.

5. Many people said they find it easier to talk to children at eye level. This means that the child does not have to constantly look up and the deaf adult is not trying to lipread the child’s face from an angle or lipread the top of the child’s head!

6.  My family knows that once I have taken off my hearing aid I cannot understand them.   They then write things down for me.  We have a wipe-clean board and pen in every room of the house, so there’s always something to write on.  We also have pen and paper in each room in case of more complex issues.

7.  Some children, young people and even very small children can be very helpful.  Some people said that their grandchildren are better at communicating with them than their grown up children.

8.  Many people said that their children or grandchildren enjoyed learning and using fingerspelling. 

One person said, “My grandchildren asked me to teach them to fingerspell after seeing my wife use it.   They had great fun learning it and love being able to help me out if I can’t follow them.  They’ve even taught it to their friends at school.”

9.  A lot of people said that they find large family parties rather difficult and that it helped to find something to do.  One person said, ”When I go to large family parties I keep myself busy – playing with the children, walking the dog, helping with the washing up, and so on.  This way I feel included and I’m doing something useful.

B. Visitors to the house

Having visitors round can be difficult if you have a hearing loss.  They may not know how best to speak so that you can follow, or they may take the easy option and speak to the hearing members of the household only.

The following are some strategies people have used when visitors come to the house:

In general

1.  My partner’s very helpful – visitors always seem to leave me out and talk to him. Either I or my partner tells them to face me and talk to me. Sometimes they still do not talk to me, so I use my hearing aid and try lipreading after having asked my partner what the subject is. If I still cannot follow, my partner tells me what they are saying.

2.  I keep a pen and pad ready for when visitors come in case I cannot lipread them.

3.  I have a humorous list of “rules” which I give to visitors if I find them difficult to follow.   It helps to break the ice and people are usually only too willing to help.

4.  I keep my furniture arranged so that visitors can sit in good light wherever they sit. So all of my chairs face the window during the day and are in a good place for the overhead lights in the evening.  My chair is arranged so my back is to the window in the daytime and in a good place to see the speaker(s) at night.

5.  If I know in advance that I’m having visitors, I arrange the room to what is best for me.  When the visitors arrive, I encourage them to sit facing the light and explain why if necessary.

6.  I keep several spare copies of the fingerspelling alphabet.  I give a copy to visitors who express an interest in it after seeing my husband use it to help me out.  It’s nice when next time they come, they try to use it themselves.

7. I’ve found if I’m struggling with a visitor I know well that my phone’s speech to text app is useful, though I do have to say that it sometimes gives us a laugh when it gets it wrong! I’d be a bit wary of using it with people I don’t know, though. It doesn’t always recognise some voices or accents very well.

Safety Issues

When you are expecting someone you know:

1. One person said that even if they are expecting visitors, they check to see who it is before they open the door, keeping the chain on until they are sure it is the person/people they are expecting.

Expected visitors that you do not know by sight:

2. Someone said that if they are expecting a visitor that they do not know by sight, (a plumber or someone to fix the washing machine, for example) they ask to see identification before letting them in. (If you are in any doubt about the identity and/or intent of the caller, see point 4 below about unexpected visitors.)

3. One person said that if they have arranged with a company for a representative to call to their house they have a pre-arranged word that the rep gives so that the deaf person knows they are from the company. This person says doing this makes them feel safer and most of the companies they have dealt with have been happy to do this.

Unexpected visitors:

4. Some people say that if the visitor is unexpected and/or is claiming to be from a company or service provider, (e.g. police officer or gas meter reader) that it is a good idea to ask for identification and if you have any doubts at all check with the company that they have actually sent this person.

Some people suggest that is is safer to look up the company in the phone book or online and not use a phone number that the caller has just given you. A legitimate caller should not mind waiting a few minutes whilst you check. If you cannot check and you still have doubts about letting them in you could perhaps ask their company to contact you to make an appointment. Again, a legitimate caller should not mind you taking these safeguards.