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Specific advice on interacting with people with hearing impairment

An inclusive environment for people with hearing impairments is one where they can socialize with fellow community members without stigma or discrimination, or being called derogatory names, one where they can easily communicate in a language they understand, access IEC materials and are able to participate in all activities in the community.

● Get the attention of the Deaf person. If he or she does not react, gently touch their arm or shoulder, or wave.
● Ask the person how he or she prefers to communicate.
● Face the person. People with hearing impairment want to see your face so they may read your lips and see your facial expression. Get on the same level as the person (e.g., sit if the person is sitting). Do not put your hand in front of your face.
● Move to a quiet area so there is no or little background noise.
● Stand nearby so the person who is hard-of-hearing may hear you in the best possible way.
● Have good lighting so he or she can see you clearly.
● Speak clearly and normally, or just louder for someone who is hard of hearing. Do not shout.
● Check if the person has understood, for example by asking feedback.
● Repeat key messages e.g., by writing them down.
● Use facial and body expressions to support what you say.
● Speak directly to the person. Do not direct your speaking to the family member or interpreter of the person who is deaf.
● In your building, have clear signs to help those that are Deaf and hard-of-hearing identify where to go.
● Provide information in writing if the person can read and write. Have a pen and a paper with you just in case you need to communicate in writing.

Most importantly, ask the person how they want to be addressed, and how they want to be supported.

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