Helpful tips for anybody who speaks to deaf people

Catching the deaf person’s attention

If a deaf person misses the first part of the sentence/conversation because their attention was elsewhere, they may find it difficult to follow the rest of the sentence/conversation.

Different people have different preferences for how they like other people to get their attention.  Once you’ve decided which method(s) you prefer you might want to let the people you come into contact with most often know. (E.g. work, family, friends)
1. Some deaf people who have some hearing people prefer people to call their name to attract their attention.

2. It can be helpful to ask friends and family not to walk up from behind as it can be very startling.

3. Some people ask their family or friends to walk up very heavily if there’s wooden flooring so that they can feel the vibration.

4. I ask people to approach me from the side and not from behind and explain that it makes me jump when people suddenly appear.  I find most people are willing to do this once they understand why.

5. I ask people not to approach too fast because it makes me jump if they suddenly appear.

6. It can be useful to ask friends to catch your attention before they start speaking so that you don’t miss that important first bit of the sentence/conversation.

7. Some people like to have their attention caught by people flicking the lights on and off BUT others say they find this very irritating. (This method can cause dizziness in some people, so it is best to check with people if this method is okay with them before using it.)

8.  Some people find they need to ask family and friends not to try to attract their attention by making loud noises (e.g. shouting or clapping their hands) as this can set off their tinnitus or make it worse.  Also some people with recruitment can find loud noises unbearable.

9. One person said “When I meet someone new and I’m going to be spending time with them, e.g. at work, I tell them that if they speak to me and I don’t reply it’s not because I’m rude but because I haven’t heard them.  Then I explain how they can get my attention.  Most people are very happy to help.”

10. Some deaf people are happy for people to tap them gently on the shoulder/arm to get their attention, others do not like being touched.

11. Some deaf people prefer people to use movement to attract their attention, such as moving into their line of vision, or moving their hand within their line of vision.

12.  One deaf person said that they tell people that if they catch their attention before they speak, they won’t need to repeat so much because they have not missed the beginning.