People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing have different individual needs when it comes to communicating. This has unfortunately been highlighted during the COVID-19 outbreak, as when others are wearing a mask, people with hearing loss can sometimes struggle with communication.
When people wear a mask, it becomes impossible for a person with hearing loss to lipread, which is one of the primary sources of communication. However, through various campaigns, guidance has been put in place allowing the lowering of a face mask from a safe, social distance.
As a company working towards saving lives through technology, we always advocate the need for procedures and systems to be in place to give any person with a disability equal opportunity. If you are communicating with someone with hearing loss please bear in mind the following:
- Make sure you are facing the person you are communicating with and speak clearly
- Do not speak too fast, or too slow – there is no need to exaggerate your words
- If someone doesn’t understand you, repeat what you said or look to rephrase it slightly again speaking clearly
- If you are in a noisy environment, look to move someone that is quieter
These tips are just a few that you should be aware of when communicating with a Deaf or hard of hearing person, whether wearing a mask or not. There are also lots of useful tools available to help communication, such as video relay services, or live speech-to-text apps on mobile phones.
It is also vitally important for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People to receive emergency commination, during a fire alarm or evacuation for example. One in six (11 million) of the UK population experiences hearing loss; at least two million of these people are unable to hear a fire alarm.