Interacting with people who are deaf/blind
There are many recommendations for communication between the hearing and the people who are part of the deaf/blind community. It is wise to talk with someone about communication prior to meeting the person for the first time when not possible, the following are some recommendations for communicating between the hearing and non-hearing community.
- To get the attention of a person who is deafblind, gently touch him or her on the arm or shoulder, wait to be acknowledged and identify yourself. Do not assume that he/she knows who you are.
- Learn to use whatever means of communication the person who is deafblind prefers. If you know another method that might be helpful, share that information.
- Express yourself in a natural way. Softening or exaggerating your gestures may result in confusion.
- Express yourself clearly and make sure that your message is understood. Summarizing important points at the end of a conversation is often helpful.
- Always inform the person who is deafblind of your whereabouts. Also, let him/her know if you intend to leave the immediate area.
- If others are present, let the person who is deafblind know their locations. Inform him or her of opportunities to enter the conversation without interrupting others.
- If you move an object (a glass of water, a chair) in the immediate environment, let the person who is deafblind know. Such information can prevent accidents and reduce confusion.
- When walking with a person who is deafblind, offer your elbow or shoulder as a guide. Hold your guiding arm close to your side to provide a stable area of contact and walk slightly ahead of the person who is deafblind. Pause slightly to indicate that you have arrived at stairs or a curb.
- You can learn more about interpreting and guiding by seeking the suggestions of people who are deafblind, observing their reactions in various situations, and consulting books on these subjects.