Celebrating Deaf Awareness Week 2024 



Deaf Awareness Week 2024

It’s Deaf Awareness here in the UK, and so to celebrate, Mitchell, Charlotte, and Tomas have been sharing content throughout the week to raise awareness about deafness. To get us started, we thought we’d look at the diversity of deafness.

The diversity of deafness


You might think that all deaf people communicate in the same way or face identical challenges, but that’s not true. 

Deafness isn’t a one-size-fits-all. What works for one person might not work for another. We all have our own stories to tell, our own experiences and challenges. And this helps shape our deaf identity, how we choose to communicate and live our life. 

Some deaf people prefer to sign, while others prefer to use spoken language, and some people use a mixture of both. Some might use hearing aids or cochlear implants, while others don’t. And how we decide to communicate or what to use might be different depending on the situation or who we’re with. 

Take the three of us for example. We all use BSL as our preferred language. Tomas uses a hearing aid, Mitchell uses a cochlear implant, Charlotte doesn’t use anything. And depending on the situation, Mitchell and Tomas might lipread or communicate using speech instead of signing. 

Some people might have mild hearing loss, while others might be profoundly deaf. And others may fall somewhere in between. Some people might experience sight loss as well as being deaf and require other forms of communication such as hands on signing or deafblind manual. 

And let’s not forget about the cultural aspect. Deaf culture is rich and diverse, with its own language, traditions, and values. Some deaf people may consider themselves part of this community, while others don’t. 

As you can see, deafness is diverse. But remember, being deaf isn’t a limitation; it’s just a different way of experiencing the world. 

It’s about embracing diversity and understanding that everyone’s journey with deafness is unique. 

Communication tips – what not to do


Communication is key, so here’s five things to avoid doing when communicating with a deaf person.

Don’t shoutTo some, this may seem like common sense, however, when you shout your lip patterns become distorted, and if a deaf person is trying to read your lips, this can make things more difficult. Besides, no-one likes getting shouted at, right?

Don’t look away or cover your mouthAgain, this will make lip reading even more difficult. Plus, deaf people are always looking for cues such as body language or facial expressions, and hiding these features just makes things all that more difficult.  

Don’t talk too fast or too slowThis links back to our first point, as it can distort the speech patterns and make lipreading more difficult. Instead, just speak at your normal pace. And if you have repeat yourself, that’s ok

Don’t give upThis might be new to you, but remember, this is a challenge deaf people face on a daily basis. 

Don’t be dismissiveDon’t use phrases such as ‘NEVERMIND’ or ‘IT DOESN’T MATTER’. Attitudes like this can cause further isolation and are very disrespectful.

Communication tips – what to do


We’ve already looked at what not to do, so here’s five things you can do to help communication happen that little bit smoother.

Get attentionFirst things first. Get  their attention before you speak or sign. There are several ways of doing this, some might be common sense, but there are others that are more unique to the deaf world. The most commonly used method for getting someone’s attention is to simply tap them lightly on the shoulder. 

Check the environmentCheck your environment. If you find yourself in a noisy environment, you might want to consider moving the conversation to a quieter area. Think about closing any open windows to reduce outside noise such as traffic, or turning off the radio if it’s creating too much distraction.  

LightingConsider the quality of the lighting and where it is coming from. Remember, deaf people need to see your face so they can take cues such as reading your lips and facial expressions, so avoid situations where you are lit from behind.

Speak clearly and directlySpeak clearly and directly. This means speaking at your normal pace and volume. When communicating, make sure to use gestures and facial expressions, or even point if you have to. Don’t worry if you don’t know any sign language, do your best to act out what it is you need to say. Any visual cues you can provide can go a long way to improving communication.  

Use what’s available to youUse what’s available to you both. Point to things around you, use gesturing, write things down or even use your phone. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box if you have too. 

Always try to establish a person’s preferred method of communication. If in doubt, just ask. And of course, learn a bit of BSL! You never know when it might come in useful. 

Deaf NOT dumb


As society changes, so does language. And that’s no different for how we describe deafness. Terms that were acceptable before are no longer appropriate. The following terms should never be used.

Deaf and dumb, deaf without speech, and deaf-mute.

Terms such as these are outdated are all highly offensive to deaf people and should never be used.

Another term to avoid ishearing impaired’. Instead of celebrating a positive deaf identity, this term implies negativity, or something that is less than.

It’s also important to stay clear of negative phrases such as ‘suffering with deafness’, or ‘struggling with hearing loss. It’s a negative way of describing someone else’s experience.  And using this negative language can contribute to the continued stigma around deaf people and our challenges. 

For many, simply calling someone ‘deaf’ is the right thing to say. However, not deaf person is the same, and what’s right for one person, may not be right for another. The best approach to take is to simply ask people how they want to be described.

Get deaf aware!

We offer a range of courses, from beginner to more advanced British Sign Language courses, as well as tailor made deaf awareness training and packages.

Find out more about our courses here.