Interacting with the Deaf

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Interacting with the Deaf


Gordon Graham
Category: Public Safety

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for public safety.

Effectively communicating with the hearing-impaired can be a challenge.

Today’s tip is for everyone in public safety and it’s about interacting with the deaf. 

About 3% of adults in the U.S. are considered deaf or hearing impaired. I’m sure you’ve encountered someone on the job who could not hear you well. If not, you will.  

Effectively communicating with the hearing-impaired can be a challenge. This is especially true when making initial contact in the field. Here are some practical suggestions.  

Be sure that you have their attention. Use a hand signal or a gentle tap on the shoulder. Face the person. Do not turn away while speaking. Speak slowly and distinctly. Use hand gestures and facial expressions to reinforce what you are saying. Don’t assume that a hearing aid provides normal hearing. Try to minimize background noise and distractions when possible. Use visual aids. Point to printed information on citations or other documents.  

Remember that only about one-third of words can be understood by speech reading.  

Try using a written note to ask what communication aid or service is preferred. But remember that not everyone has good reading and writing skills. 

Any extended or complex conversation, like an interview or an interrogation, should involve a qualified interpreter.  

One last thing. Many hearing-impaired people carry a laminated card with information about their disability. They may be eager to inform you about their disability. In what is certainly an anxious moment for both of you, they may reach for this card.  

Please make every effort to recognize and accommodate people with hearing impairments. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off.

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