What if I can’t speak the lingo? Are there interpreters to help you?

When you go abroad on holiday to, let’s say, sunny Spain, how difficult do you find it when you can’t speak the lingo?  It can be quite difficult to know if the food you have ordered will be right when it’s served, or heaven forbid you to need a doctor.  How do you know the right medicine will be given to you? Are there language interpreters there to help you?

Deaf people can feel like this at hospitals, doctors, and dentist appointments, in education, meetings, training, and at work. In fact, anything you or I might do as a hearing person.

If you work with a deaf person, have you ever asked them what support would help them?  Say at the next yearly meeting or at group training off-site?

Sometimes support provided can depend on how the deaf person wishes to communicate. It is best to communicate with them face to face (if possible) and ensure your face is clearly visible to them when doing so. They prefer this as it allows them to interact with you directly.

If you are writing something down to communicate with a deaf person, it is important that it is written in plain English. Write down the main points, and explain things as clearly as possible; without using too much jargon.

Have you ever wondered if there is more than British Sign Language available; to help deaf people feel supported in their everyday life?

Here are a few options to consider when discussing the type of support with your deaf colleague or client:

– BSL/English Interpreters provide effective communication to deaf people by interpreting from one language to another. They are used by deaf people whose first or preferred language is BSL.

– Notetakers, Manual and Electronic, provide a summary of notes for the deaf person. It can be useful for those that do not use BSL or have limited lip-reading skills. For example, a training session where the deaf person is unable to take notes whilst watching the trainer at the front of the room.

– Speech-to-text Reporter (STTR) or Palantypist listens to what is being said and inputs it word for word into an electronic shorthand keyboard. The words are converted, using specially designed software, into English which can be displayed on a screen or a series of screens for a large number of users. STTRs can also give extra information, like laughter or applause, to help keep the user informed of the mood of the meeting or conference.

– Lipspeakers repeat the speaker’s messages to the deaf person by means of producing words clearly along with facial expressions or natural gestures. The lipspeaker may also use fingerspelling if requested.

These are just a few examples of how to communicate with a deaf person.

But what if communication goes wrong?

Does a deaf patient miss some information regarding their care? This could mean they take their medication at the wrong times as they were not aware of the advice given by the doctor/nurse.

Or even a deaf bride purchases her beautiful wedding dress, but six weeks later, it arrives in completely the wrong colour and size. Nobody wants a Bridezilla, do they..!

By asking deaf people what they need, they can help them feel more confident, happier, relaxed and included in their everyday lives.