Unless you interact with a disabled person on a regular basis, you may not be familiar with appropriate etiquette when it comes to basic communications with a person who has limited sensory abilities.
One of the most common disabilities is someone who has hearing issues. While every person is different, there are certain strategies you can follow in most cases to make sure you are communicating as effectively as possible.
Not every deaf or hard or hearing person lip reads, but for those who do, this can be an effective way to bridge the gap between you. To make sure you are understood as well as possible…
- Speak normally and don’t over enunciate or under enunciate (in other words, make sure you are not mumbling).
- If you normally talk fast, slow down, but not too much, which can be just as hard to understand as speaking too fast.
- Make sure that the disabled person is facing you and that you are in a well lit area, if possible.
- Don’t put food or gum in your mouth and keep your hands away from your lips while you’re talking.
- For people who are hard of hearing and combine lip reading with some sound identification, be aware that background noise can be confusing. Try to find a quiet area, mute a television or a radio and speak up in a clear voice.
- Try to minimize body movements and gesturing because it makes it harder to follow your lips and the movements can be distracting. The best thing to keep in mind is to try and keep eye contact at all times because if you have good eye contact, there’s a good chance you’ll also have good lip visibility as well.