Deaf Awareness tips
How to help a deaf child feel included
Imagine how you would feel if the phrase you heard most often was “I’ll tell you later.” Deaf children have told us that someone saying “I’ll tell you later” is their absolute pet hate. They want to be involved just like their friends.
If you’ve never communicated with a deaf child before, don't worry, it’s not as hard as you think! It could also make all the difference.
Deafness is a spectrum. Every deaf child is different, with different levels of deafness and different preferences, but the tips below are useful for communicating with all deaf children.
Find out how they communicate
Not all deaf children use British Sign Language (BSL). Every deaf child will have a preferred way of communicating, so find out if they use speech, BSL or a mixture of both.
Speak clearly and naturally
Deaf children will try to lip-read, so they need you to say words as you normally would. Speaking slowly or too loudly makes lip-reading much more difficult.
Watch your mouth
Covering your mouth with your hands, eating, chewing or smoking can make lip-reading very difficult. It will also muffle any sound you’re making.
Use visual cues, where possible
Point to what you’re talking about, and don’t be shy about using gestures to support your communication. For example, if you’re telling a group of children dinner is ready, you can do a knife and fork action and point to the dinner table.
Never give up or say “I’ll tell you later”
If one method doesn’t work, don’t be scared to improvise. You can try texting on your phone, emailing, or good old fashioned pen and paper.
By making these simple changes, you’ll not only keep deaf children part of the conversation – you’ll show them they’re just as important as everyone else.
What we do to help deaf children and young people
We’re dedicated to supporting the UK’s 50,000 deaf children and young people, no matter their level of hearing loss or communication type.
If they need advice or support, we have a Helpline they can contact using whatever communication method they prefer.
If they want to meet other deaf children and young people (as so many haven’t met one before), they can book a free place on our adventure events.
And if they want to improve their school, sports club or community’s deaf awareness, we have a Roadshow team that will deliver practical workshops for free.