Speaking With People Who Are Deaf

DO –

  • face the deaf person when you speak  and speak directly to him/her
  • use normal mouth movements and  speak in a normal tone of voice
  • remember to include the person who  is deaf in everything–even minor  details, especially when plans are  changed
  • write as much as possible.   Many  words look exactly the same on the  mouth
  • demonstrate how things are done
  • demonstrate how things are done
  • take turns speaking–one person at a  time
  • be aware that there is a time lag  between the time a hearing person says  something and the time when the person  who is deaf gets the information from  the Interpreter
  • remember the Interpreter is  supposed to be “invisible.   He/She is  there to only help with communication
  • make sure the lighting in the room is  appropriate
  • talk to a person who is deaf in a  room with little or no noise.   Many  people who are deaf have some hearing
  • talk to a person who is deaf in a  room free of visual distractions


  • turn your face away while you  are still speaking, or tell the Interpreter  to “Tell him/her”
  • use exaggerated mouth  movements and do not YELL
  • decide what the person who is  deaf needs or does not need to know
  • be impatient–the  communication process will be slower  with or without an Interpreter
  • assume that the person who is  deaf understands a particular process just  because he/she if watching you  DON’T let more than one person talk at  a time and let the person who is deaf  know who is speaking
  • think the person who is deaf is  not smart or the Interpreter is not skilled  because of the time lag.   It takes time to  translate from one language to another
  • try to include the Interpreter in  the discussion.   He/She is NOT part of  the group
  • talk loudly to others, or sing,  bang the table, or make other distractingnoises when the person who is deaf is  trying to watch the speaker
  • talk in a room full of activity; it  makes it difficult for the deaf person to  concentrate on the speaker