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How to communicate with someone who is deaf or has hearing loss

Two women using British Sign Language

People who are deaf or have hearing loss have individual communication needs and you should ask someone how best you can communicate with them. Not every tip below will be appropriate for every person who is deaf or has hearing loss.

Communication tips

Hear about the top communication tips from deaf people and those with hearing loss:

Re-phrase what you said

If someone doesn’t understand you, repeat what you said or phrase it differently, use plain language.

Face the person you’re speaking to

Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly – avoid shouting, speaking too fast or unnecessarily slow.

Use an interpreter

You should always follow the advice of the person with communication needs. If that’s booking an interpreter or speaking to a friend or relative.

Write it down

Use pen on paper, text on device screens, or whiteboards to write what you want to say.

Get their full attention

Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention.

Reduce background noise

In a noisy place, move to a quieter area if possible.

Help us fight the stigma

“I have to lip read, watch your body language and facial expressions, listen to the tone of your voice and process all this information in seconds.” – Lynn. £50 could help us provide a workplace assessment for someone who is finding it hard to hear at work.
Donate to RNID

Other tools to help with communication

Communication at work

Page last updated: 22 September 2023

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