How to Communicate With Deaf People When You Don’t


You ought to communicate with them in such a manner that you get their attention and also not hurt their feelings by doing or saying something wrong. Things can get incredibly complicated when you’re not aware of how to communicate with them in their sign language. You do not want to shut them out entirely or complicate the process. But, there are a few techniques that could help you in communicating effectively without hurting their feelings. Stick around to know more.


Getting their attention

Communication can spark and progress after you get their attention. It is essential to spark their attention before you being your communication.

With a hearing person, you can shout out their name or say “hey”. But, the same thing cannot be done with a deaf person. This is when visual attention comes into play. Make necessary efforts so that you get their visual attention.

According to the Head-Hearing Communication Centre, there are multiple ways to get their attention, without coming forward as rude:

  • Move-in their visual field.
  • Tap on their shoulder gently.
  • Flick lights at a medium pace. You might want to avoid flicking at a fast speed, which indicates an emergency.

Tips on communication

Once you get their attention, it is essential to talk to them like how you would speak to a normal person, without making things awkward. Some tips for communicating efficiently and effectively are mentioned below:

  • Face a deaf person: It is essential to face the person you’re talking to. Many deaf people are expert in the art of reading lips. If so, your efforts can be reduced by 50% because they can automatically understand what you’re trying to convey, by reading your lips.
  • Check the lighting: It is crucial to make sure your face is visible to the person as visuals are the only way they can know who they’re talking to.
  • Speak clearly: It is essential to speak clearly without mumbling because they tend to read your lips, and it is important to maintain it crisp and clear.
  • Video calls: If you’re communicating with them over the phone, then it is a no-brainer that you cannot voice call them. Hence, video call them to communicate better. But again, make sure you’re seated in a brightly lit area so that it is easier for them to read your lips. Sometimes, the subtitles in the call also help them to understand better while witnessing your facial expressions.
  • Don’t say anything rude: Some phrases like “don’t worry about it“, “it does not matter“, seems to come out rude to the deaf. Hence, try and avoid such phrases from your conversation.
  • Write down: If nothing works at all, then the best way to communicate with deaf people is to write your message down and show it to them.