Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Effectively communicating with persons from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community may prove to be more difficult than anticipated for the Hearing because of obvious barriers to communication.

Persons from the Deaf community have various needs that facilitate how they communicate with others. Once these needs (which are usually quite simple and basic) are met, the communication process flows more smoothly.

To add context, it helps to have a basic understanding of what it means to be deaf and hard of hearing.

To be deaf is to have very little or no functional hearing and a deaf person often uses sign language to communicate while being hard of hearing means that there is mild to moderate hearing loss. Persons who are hard of hearing may communicate through sign language, spoken language or both.

Here are some tips on how you can communicate effectively the Deaf and Hard of Hearing:


Do Don’t
Refer to the Deaf as Deaf or Hard of Hearing Refer to the Deaf as dumb, dummy or hearing impaired
Wave or lightly tap the shoulder to get their attention Start speaking if the deaf person is not looking at you
Face the deaf Person Turn around or move away
Make Eye Contact Look down or away
Speak clearly, at a Natural Pace Talk too slowly or quickly
Use an expressive face Over exaggerate your lip pattern
Use natural gestures Shout (This distorts you face and mouth, and can be painful for hearing aid wearers.
Ensure your face is in good light Stand with a window or bright light behind you
Keep your mouth visible Cover your mouth
Make sure the deaf person knows the topic of conversation Switch to a new topic without warning
Check that the deaf person has understood you before continuing Switch to a new speaker without warning
Use pencil and paper if you get stuck OR type using your phone Feel embarrassed or give up
Flip the lights if you need to get the attention of a group of deaf persons in a room.  


Learn and practise Sign Language


For more information, contact the Jamaica Association for the Deaf:

Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD)

Administrative Services

Hope Estates, Papine

Kingston 6

Phone: (876) 970-1778, (876) 970-1779

Fax: (876) 927-1098


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