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Recommendations for the Implementation of Equipment and Services for the Support of Deaf People
Some facts about deafness!
Deaf (capital D) – usually refers to someone who is born deaf, speaks British Sign Language (BSL) or English with Sign Language (SSE), and may consider themselves to be a cultural minority.
Deafness (little d) or deafness – usually when a person learns to speak before losing all or most of their hearing. They will feel lost between the hearing world and the deaf world!
Hard of Hearing – Usually refers to someone who has lost some hearing but still has some useful hearing.
Hearing – Refers to a person whose hearing is within the normal range.
Many people think that deafness is just an inconvenient sign of old age for their friends and family.
It affects 1 in 7 people (approximately 9 million people in the UK) and many of them are born deaf or have hearing loss due to disease or injury.
Nearly 15% of the UK population has some degree of hearing loss (1 in 7)
10 people will be born severely deaf
20 people will be severely deaf
100 will be partially to profoundly deaf/deaf
600 Partially deaf/deaf will have hearing impairment
800 will have mild hearing impairment
BSL is the first or preferred language of around 70,000 people in the UK
About 2 million people wear hearing aids (and maybe 1 million more would benefit from them)
Nearly all deaf/deaf and hard of hearing people rely on lip reading to some extent
Many combine BSL’s signs with English to communicate using Sign Supported English (SSE)
Unlike easily identifiable disabilities, deafness is often invisible or hidden, so people who are deaf or hard of hearing often have to live with impatience or misunderstanding.
D/ Deaf and hard of hearing people are not stupid, they hate being treated like stupid people!
People with varying degrees of hearing loss face discrimination, exclusion from services, and exclusion from social contact on a daily basis due to lack of awareness about deafness.
Furthermore, deaf and hard of hearing people have extremely limited opportunities to access information and develop social inclusion.
People who are deaf are often seen as only hearing impaired.
Losing hearing as a child or adult can be devastating and can have a huge psychological impact on that person.
Deaf and deaf individuals and their friends and family must adjust to living in a hearing world!
It’s a difficult process, and helping to do this isn’t always obvious.
People with hearing loss may experience:
Shock and denial – especially if the loss was sudden.
Quarantine and evacuation.
Avoid social and public events.
Sadness and a sense of loss.
Fear of the future.
You may need to provide special equipment for deaf individuals working for or visiting you such as; vibrating fire pagers, flashing/amplified telephone equipment, text phones, personal video players for touring, etc.
What should be done to help?
Interpreters should be provided for BSL users at conferences etc!
BSL users and non-BSL users should be provided with –
2. Take notes (It is impossible to take notes while watching the translation!)
Use communications support staff.
Under the Equality Act, you are obliged to train your staff on Deaf awareness and BSL requirements if they come into contact with the public.
Training staff to BSL level is like training their signing age to be about the equivalent of a 4 year old – and that’s not enough!
(How would it feel to communicate with you in a business meeting or public event if the language level is that of a four-year-old?)
BSL Level 2 is the basic conversational level!
BSL Level 3 is the standard for fluent social conversations!
BSL Level 4 is the standard for fluent technical/work conversations!
**This is why you need an interpreter! ** – Grade 6 or 7!
For hearing aid users –
Install auditory circulation systems in every place where public address or information is provided.
Have it professionally serviced and serviced at least once a year by someone who knows how to maintain and adjust these systems! (See note at the end about sound systems and their setup requirements!)
Expert training! – Learn how to use it!
If you don’t use the microphone, your hearing aids won’t hear you!
If the microphone battery is dead, the hearing aid will not hear!
If the microphone is turned off, the hearing aid will not hear sound!
If people don’t know the loop system exists, you won’t know how to switch hearing aids to use it!
For lip readers-
Best of all – use lip-reading!
& provides recorder
(It is impossible to take notes while watching the spoken language!)
Second Best – Expert Training! Train your staff on how to deliver clear lip lines!
Make sure only one person is speaking at a time
Make sure all speakers face the deaf person before speaking.
Make sure to provide good lighting in front of the speaker.
Don’t stand in front of a bright or distracting background. (visual noise!)
Before you start talking, check to see if the deaf person is watching.
Training is not a one-off, it needs to be organized and done on a regular basis
You need basic essentials training for everyone who might be in any crowd!
Don’t yell as this will distort your lips – speak clearly!
Sentences are easier to lip read than individual words.
If the person is lip reading and doesn’t understand a word or phrase – rewrite what you said. (interruptions are allowed/encouraged)
Avoid exaggerated facial expressions.
Use gestures where relevant.
Keep your head still and don’t move around.
Don’t turn your back when speaking.
Don’t hide your mouth movements behind your hand or a piece of paper/book.
Don’t talk while looking down at a book.
Expert training! – How to use the microphone!
Let me introduce the topic first.
Keep other noise to a minimum.
Write things down so the deaf person knows what you’re talking about – your conversation, discussion points, etc. Give them ahead of time!
Using OHP / Projector
Don’t forget to include deaf people!
Use power-point but don’t go over the top!
Too many clever effects are distracting and tiring to watch!
Don’t forget to ask for advice – it’s part of Coaching Concepts’ role to help you!
Deaf people are encouraged to participate.
Learn to use sign language!
Where standard scripts are used, BSL recordings with English subtitles by professional interpreters should also be provided!
What do interpreters need?
A place to stand that is well lit from the front and has no distracting background.
The place must be visible from where the deaf person is sitting and not too far away.
Large print copy of information.
Place copies on something that won’t obstruct their signature space – a sturdy music stand is ideal.
There is plenty of time for all relevant wording!
Not two minutes early!
Two days ago is acceptable.
A week before the event is ideal.
Time – Rearrange seating or their work positions so that they provide the greatest advantage for the deaf. They’re experts – use their knowledge!
Your workplace audit.
1. From where are all announcements, notices, etc. clearly visible or designated seating areas required for the D/Deaf?
2. Do you have a public address system and hearing aid loop?
3. Where does the microphone stand? Are they always used by speakers? Can lip readers see who is speaking?
4. Where is the notice saying you have a circulatory system?
5. Do you have and maintain a meeting or service agenda with relevant information in an accessible format for all D/Deaf individuals?
6. Identify barriers in your workplace that prevent you from seeing clearly. How do you keep the speakers from being hidden by lecterns etc.?
7. Does the speaker always face the crowd?
8. What problems can be identified by light energy? Is there a situation where the light is coming from behind the speaker head? Do you have good front lighting?
9. Who understands British Sign Language and who can write the alphabet with deaf-blind hands?
10. If a deaf person came to your workplace, where would you go for help? How will you get a professional interpreter?
11. What is the name of your local or professional deaf support organization?
12. Would you like to have a deaf person lead your meeting in sign language?
13. Do you know which of your employees are hard of hearing or use hearing aids?
14. Has anyone stopped attending your meetings/sessions/services because they could no longer follow?
15. Do you have a portable loop or other means of communication to assist you?
16. Can you go into a private room to talk to a hearing-impaired caregiver?
Sound reinforcement system
There is a huge difference between a sound reinforcement system provided to help the hearing impaired be able to hear and understand, and a local musicians band amplification system designed to project very loud noise from a projector throughout a given stage .
In many cases where sound systems are installed, this simple fact is not understood and advice about sound systems is offered by people who want their music/singing to play like their favorite pop stars.
The use of a sound reinforcement system requires proper use of microphones and proper placement of speakers so that the sound is not distorted or reflected by projecting onto hard surfaces.
Improper use of microphones is a very common problem. Placing the mic too close to the mouth or speaking/singing too loudly into it can overload the mic and produce a distorted sound. It can also cause the hearing aid to overload and automatically cut off certain sounds, resulting in weird on-off effects! If this common mistake is to be avoided, all microphone users must be trained in how to use the microphone properly for good hearing.
The setup of the speaker system is equally important as the usual format is to have as many speakers as possible pointing towards the local band overhead in the crowd! This is disastrous for the hearing impaired as it provides a lot of reflected noise and cross wave interference. Systems designed for improved hearing will offer speakers that are pointed into an open space, rather than a hard surface, so that sound is absorbed evenly in a group. In places like churches, this can be facilitated by carefully positioning the speakers so that they point towards people’s bodies, allowing the people themselves to be the absorbing surface that prevents the problem of reflected noise.
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