Providing Learning Support for d/Deaf Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities
Deaf Etiquette and Hints for Effective Communication
What's in a name?
When referring to students with hearing loss, staff should be aware of certain issues:
- Many deaf people - and almost all Deaf people - dislike the term 'hearing-impaired'. It has negative connotations, and focuses on a perceived deficit. Deaf people do not regard themselves as hearing-impaired.
- The expression 'The Deaf' is also disliked - say 'Deaf People'.
- 'Hard of Hearing' refers to people with slight or moderate hearing loss - d/Deaf people do not find this term appropriate.
In order to encompass all levels of deafness the terms d/Deaf or hearing-impaired people can be used. This will ensure that all groups are covered.
How can I communicate more effectively?
When you are communicating with d/Deaf students, whether in the classroom, one-to-one or in the field, remember:
For students who lip-read
- Make sure you are not standing in front of a window or light: no-one can lip-read a silhouette.
- Ensure there is adequate light so the student can see your face.
- The student needs to be able to see your mouth: don't cover it with scarves, whiskers, hands or food.
- Face the student and maintain eye-contact: don't turn away to point at anything when speaking.
- Speak normally - don't exaggerate lip movements or slow down unnaturally; don't gabble; don't shout.
- Stick to the point - don't start to talk about one thing then wander off onto another subject: context is an important clue in lip-reading.
- Keep at a distance of between 1 and 2 metres for one-to-one communication.
- Don't expect d/Deaf students to lip-read at a distance, in group-work or in large lectures.
- Only one person at a time can be lip-read - control group discussions so that people speak in sequence. It is useful if people raise their hands before they speak in discussions. The d/Deaf or hearing impaired person can then turn to look at the speaker, rather than trying to locate the sound and then losing the first part of the speaker's comment.
For students who use an interpreter
- When working with a Sign Language Interpreter many of the above points also apply - the student must be able to see your face, the interpreter can only interpret one person at a time, and so on.
- Use a registered qualified Sign Language Interpreter or a registered trainee - relying on the student's pals just will not do.
- Ensure the student can see the interpreter and any visual aids.
- Ensure the interpreter can hear you speak.
- While you are speaking, the student will look at the interpreter; however, if the student is signing and the interpreter is 'voicing' his/her comments, do not look at the interpreter - look at the student. S/he is the one who is commenting.
- When speaking to the student, don't speak to the interpreter: look at the student and address your comments to him/her.
- Never say to the interpreter "Tell him…" Always speak directly to the student.
- Remember that the interpreter can only interpret one person at a time: control group discussions so that people speak in sequence.
- Remember that there is a few seconds lag or delay in interpreting - allow time to catch up.
- Don't ask the interpreter to comment or participate in discussions - s/he is there to facilitate communication between you and the student/s. S/he will not communicate with you other than to clarify meaning.
For all d/Deaf or hearing-impaired students
- Please understand that it is impossible to watch an interpreter or lip-read and take notes/read handouts at the same time. Where possible students should be provided with overhead transparencies and handouts in advance, either from a Web-site or in hard copy. Interpreters should be briefed in advance of what will be required.
- Relax and be natural with d/Deaf or hearing-impaired students.
© Geography Discipline Network/authors, 2001
ISBN: 1 86174 116 2