Deaf Awareness Week is an opportunity for everyone to think about the impact of deafness and to reflect on how we can be supportive an inclusive of people who are deaf. This year’s theme is Deaf Inclusion, and we would like to highlight some simple ways to make sure deaf people are involved and included.
One in 6 of the population has some degree of hearing loss and this is rapidly rising to 1 in 5, and half of people over the age of 60 have some hearing loss. 7,000 Deaf people use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language. Even a mild degree of hearing loss can have a huge impact on someone’s confidence and involvement.
Exposure to loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss and tinnitus that might not show up for years, or even decades, and is thought to be on the increase as we all spend much more time listening on headphones. Here are some simple tips to protect your hearing if you are exposed to loud noise.
Be aware of the signs that your hearing is being affected. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
The biggest barrier that people who are deaf or hard of hearing face day to day is keeping up with the communication around about them. There are many factors that will affect how people manage communication to stay connected with those around them, including how much hearing they still have, whether they use hearing aids and the strategies that they have found that work for them. However, we also have a responsibility to make sure deaf people are included.
There are some really simple tips that we can all follow when speaking so someone how is deaf or hard of hearing. All of these tips will help someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to lipread you and follow what you are saying.
Download this basic tip sheet.
Around 7,000 Deaf people who were born or became severely of profoundly deaf before learning to speak use British Sign Language as their first or preferred language. They are proud of their Deaf identify and do not see themselves as being disabled but as being a cultural and linguistic minority. British Sign Language users have felt isolated from mainstream services and society as very few people can use sign language to communicate. When the Scottish Government introduced the BSL Scotland Act in 2015, this was designed to support and promote the use of British Sign Language, which is starting to make a difference on make all parts of society and day to day life, including education, employment, social, cultural and leisure as well as health and social care serives more accessible to Deaf British Sign Language users.
Just last week (27th April 2022) the UK Government passed a new BSL Act, which will cover England, Scotland and Wales. We look forward to seeing the impact this will have on the lives of Deaf people.
You do not need to have good sign language skills to communicate with a BSL users, following all of the basic tips above will help. Most local Colleges run British Sign Language classes if you would like learn sign language, including the grammar, structure, hand-shapes and other key parts of communicating with Deaf people. Watch these short videos to find out about the Fingerspelling Alphabet and some basic signs.
Learn the British Sign Language Fingerspelling alphabet
It can also be really useful to learn some basic signs. Watch this short video demonstrating some basic signs you can learn so you can have some communication with a Deaf person when you meet.
If you are a service provider, you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to make communication more accessible for people with a disability, and therefore someone with a hearing loss.
Find out more about the services that we provide at https://www.nesensoryservices.org/our-services/social-work-rehabilitation-and-specialist-support/…….
To find out more about how to support someone with our sensory impairment, book a place on our training https://www.nesensoryservices.org/for-professionals/awareness-training/