DEAF AWARENESS 

Deaf Awareness week begins the first week of May 2015.

  • Under the Equality Act 2010 Deaf People have the right to communication support of their choice, for any communication requirements.

  • Only Fully Qualified Interpreters should be used especially for hospital and court. Fully Qualified Interpreters (Level 6) are of the highest calibre and can translate smoothly and effectively between BSL (British Sign Language) and English, using the grammatical structure of Sign Language and Voiceover.
  • Lipspeakers are also of the highest calibre and are usually utilised by deaf people who do not use BSL either at all or effectively enough to understand conversation fully.
  • Those able to lipread need good lighting in a room, that shines on your face, not from behind you! You should also face the deaf person and keep hands away from your mouth!
  • Do not use distorted lip patterns, speak normally, not too fast or too slow, but clear and concisely. Do not shout!
  • Try to have a pen and pad handy to write things down, you never know when it maybe useful!
  • These support systems can include: GP appointments; Hospital Appointments; Work Meetings; Dentist; School Parents Evenings; College Courses; Conferences, Court Attendances or Business Meetings. However, pen and paper is not recommended unless the deaf person requests it.
  • The Data Protection Act (DTA) Discriminates against Deaf people, as a third person is not normally allowed to speak on the phone on their behalf, either through use of the minicom or normal phone call. An extremely frustrating situation!
  • The Deaf Community is extremely Diverse, no two Deaf people are exactly the same. We have many different needs.
  • Some of us are born Deaf, others acquire deafness through illness or accident in childhood or adulthood.
  • 90% of Hearing Parents have Deaf children, only 10% of Deaf Parents have Deaf children!
  • Sometimes hearing children start to develop language as in signing, due to having two deaf parents, making BSL their first language and thus delaying their own speech!  This is not a cause for alarm, but should be rectified, if need be, before starting school. Speech therapy maybe required.
  • Mental illness is higher in the Deaf Community than the Hearing population, contrary to its size. 40% and 25% respectively.
  • Children in need– 60% of authorities did not regard a deaf child as a ‘child in need’, despite the definition contained in the Children Act 1989.

  • Assessment– 50% of authorities had no arrangements in place to ensure accurate assessment of deaf children and their families across health, education and social care.

  • Specialist workforce –46% of authorities had no qualified social workers who worked with deaf children and their families.

  • Child protection –Only a third of authorities had any kind of co-working arrangements in place between specialist social workers and child protection teams, and nearly 20% had none.
  • Referral – Over 50% had no formal referral arrangements between social care and education, and 45% had none between social care and health.

  • Numbers of deaf children – There was also considerable evidence that many authorities had no contact with the majority of deaf children and their families in their area.

  • Counselling Services can be extremely difficult to achieve due to Language Barriers and utilising Interpreters does not afford the Counsellor nor Client a direct bond/pathway to improving mental health.
  • Some use BSL (British Sign Language) others use SSE (SignedSupported English) or Lipspeakers and Notetakers. Others are happy using speech.

  • Notetaking can be manually or electronically carried out, usually by a qualified notetaker.

  • BSL has its own Grammar and Syntax, therefore learning the Basics and Nuances of BSL is always a valuable tool to have under your belt! Many Colleges have classes.

  • When in conversation with a Deaf person and Interpreter do not look towards the Interpreter as you speak, but towards the Deaf person. This would also apply to Lipspeakers.

  • You must always speak in a continuous flow and not "stop and start" waiting for an interpreter to "keep up" with you!

  • "Stops and starts" are not necessary due to how the Grammar of BSL works.

  • All Service Providers should express all their literature and information on Products in Plain English. Its time to do away with the "small print and heavy jargon!"

  • Approximately 356,000 people are both deaf and blind.

  • To gain Deaf peoples' or person's attention in a busy room just flash the light switch!

  • When approaching a Deaf person from behind, place your hand gently on their shoulder, so they know someone is there.

  • In noisy environments Hearing people usually speak into each others ears, but this is useless in Deaf people! Please try to remember to face them, so they can lipread you, if possible.

  • Not all Deaf people have the ability to lipread, or to use Sign Language.

  • Literacy and Numeracy Levels in some Profoundly Deaf People is many years below that of their peers. Some deaf people have been "shut out" of Education in years gone by due to a lack of understanding of how to teach deaf children. That is a scandal and the battle is ongoing to raise literacy levels amongst them, even now in 2014! Let's not leave them out any longer, as language difficulties and communication problems can result in mental illness, it can only serve them well to improve in this area. 

  • Many Deaf people have no residual hearing with which to make use of a hearing aid. 

  • In the year 2011: 10m people in the UK had hearing loss, by the year 2031 there is likely to be 14.5m.

  • 70% aged over 70 and 40% aged over 50 have some hearing loss.

  • 1 in 10 have mild tinnitus and 1% of the population has tinnitus so badly that it affects their quality of life.

  • Menieres disease comprises of: deafness, tinnitus and vertigo, although vertigo can vary in length of endurance: from a few seconds to hours. The 3 conditions often combine, but not always.  Tinnitus can be severe, but vertigo sporadic.

  • 2m deaf people have hearing aids, but only 1.4m use them regularly.

  • There are 45,000 deaf children in the UK.

  • Over 800,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf.

  • Music is not an option for Profoundly Deaf people. Most of us can feel the vibrations of a song and get the rhythm, but do not pick up the words unless they are written down to follow.

  • Job choices for Deaf people are not as wide and variable as that for Hearing People. For instance, you will never come across a Deaf Firefighter or Doctor!

  • In an accident it is good to gently hold their hand and touch deaf people to calm and soothe them, just as you would talk softly to a hearing person.

  • Deafness can be very frustrating to contend with due to Language difficulties, and may sometimes lead to aggression.

  • Profoundly Deaf people can still have normal speech, although rare, it is dependant on when deafness was acquired.

  • Some Deaf people have had Cochlear implants fitted, which is a very Powerful Hearing Aid.  However, this does not make them Hearing people!

  • Cochlear Implants is a very controversial issue in the Deaf Community. Hearing Parents usually give Doctor's permission for their child to have one, but Deaf Parents do not always do so.

  • Cochlear Implants are usually implanted into very young children (before the age of 5) allowing their brain to assimilate with the device rather than having to accommodate it, as adults usually do. This means they will have access to sound and if they have hearing parents, will learn to speak and have English as their first language. If born of deaf parents they may well grow up bilingual, although this is not cast iron.

  • It is known for deaf children who have grown up with a CI implant to then struggle to understand deaf friends (with or without CI's) who use BSL in adulthood. This demonstrates how English can become the predominant first language in young CI implanted children; and how it is possible for BSL to die out as a result!

  • Some deaf adults continue to use sign language after implantation of a CI, others may choose not to use it anymore or only among deaf friends.

  • Cochlear Implants cost around £40,000 each!

  • Voicemail is useless to Deaf people, unless they have the software to turn the voice into "Text Speak". So please remember to text, not speak! 

  •  Those deaf people who have good literacy skills are able to make use of STTR: this is Speech to Text Reporting and is invaluable to those who have no sign language skills and prefer English.  This method suits large conferences and long presentations.  A person will sit listening and type up information onto a screen to read.

  • Mobile Text messaging is a very common use of communication. Also known as (SMS) Short Messaging Service. 

  • E Mailing is an excellent means of communication for those Deaf people who have good literacy skills. 

  • Increasing numbers of Deaf people have Hearing Dogs for the Deaf acting as great "ice breakers!" 
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  • Training any dog to become a Hearing Dog for the Deaf cost around £42,000!  

  • Not all breed of Dogs make suitable Hearing Dogs: small Yorkshire Terriers, so now only specific breeds and some cross breeds are taken on for training, such as: Cockapoodles! 

  • Many places have a "loop system" which is usually ideal for those who are (HOH) Hard of Hearing.  

  • (HOH) Hard of Hearing people rarely (if ever) learn or incorporate British Sign Language into their lives. 

  • Nationwide Cinemas should have all their film showings with "ready-made" subtitles so that Deaf Cinema goers have equal access.  

  • Sony have developed "subtitle spectacles" for use in cinemas. These glasses give access to the cinema for deaf people without spoiling films for hearing people, and losing the cinema money!

  • Real testing of these glasses is still in its infancy, as very few deaf people have tried them out.

  • All Plays at Theatres should make greater use of captioning as not all Deaf people enjoy interpreted shows.
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  • In any Powerpoint/Screen Presentation a spotlight should be left shining on the Interpreter/Lipspeaker otherwise it is too dark for Deaf people to pick up communication effectively, denying them access. 

  • Train Announcements should have electronic captioning at all stations, so that Deaf people have equal access to all announcements, especially last minute ones! The Tannoy is pointless! 

  • Intercoms placed outside buildings are useless to Deaf people and should have a "Special Button" to alert those in the building that a Deaf person is requiring access.

  • No one size fits all deaf people, treat them and support them on an individual basis as and when you meet them.
  • It is Deafblind Awareness week between 23-29th June 2014.