How to identify that a customer is deaf or has a hearing loss?

Within your business or organisation, you will have many people accessing your services but how can you identify if they have deafness or a hearing loss? Well, we are about to tell you more and share with you some strategies to enhance the deaf customer experience.

Deafness and hearing loss is a hidden disability

If you are meeting someone in a wheelchair it is more obvious and ‘visible’ to see they have a disability, and you adjust to the situation and make choices accordingly.

However, when meeting a deaf or hard of hearing person for the first time, it can be less obvious and harder to identify.

Think of the scenario when someone walks into your premises to access your services, you approach them and say, “Can I help you” and you do not get a response.

Your first thoughts might be:

“Why did they not respond?”

“That was rude of them!” 

It is really easy to jump to this conclusion, without considering that the person may not have heard you. 

This can often be an identifier of deafness or a hearing loss.  The fact that there was no response to your verbal question.

Other ways you can identify deafness:

  • The customer using sign language to communicate
  • Their voice may sound different to what you are used to hearing 
  • They may wear hearing aids or a cochlear implant that is more visible for you to identify
  • They may also have an Interpreter with them to access your services.

As a business it is really good for you to think about your processes UPFRONT, so that you are better prepared when meeting a deaf customer.

So, onto what you can do:

  • Ensure you have the customers attention before speaking to them
  • Think about whether or not you have direct eye contact with them
  • If not, adjust the environment to gain eye contact before starting a conversation

Eye contact alone is HUGE!

Once you maintained eye contact, you will more easily know if you have been understood.

In most situations, a deaf customer will then respond to your question, or they will ask you to repeat the question if they did not hear you. 

This alone is a great first step to take because communication is key to everything we all do in life.

The first step, is to look at your process.

How are your team members trained to greet and communicate with customers?

Do you provide your team with training on disability and deaf awareness?



For more information on how you can improve your deaf customers’ experience – click below and we would love to chat to you!  

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