Communication style or preference may be determined by age, onset of hearing loss or deafness, school environment or the area of Canada where the individual was raised.
Every consideration should be made to accomodate the individual's preferences.
People with a hearing loss or deafness may identify themselves as:
This term is generally used by individuals who have been deaf since birth or prelingually deaf. They have a severe to profound hearing loss with little or no residual hearing. They may use speech to communicate with the help of hearing aids, technical devices or cochlear implants, speech reading and/or sign language.
This term is used by individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture and community of Deaf people based on sign language. Most of these individuals have a severe to profound hearing loss.
Deafened or Late-Deafened
These terms are used by individuals who have developed language skills prior to gradually or suddenly losing their hearing. Generally, deafened people do not identify themselves with the culturally deaf community. They have a greater connection to the hearing community and communicate with visual supports such as speech reading, print or captioning.
Hard of Hearing
This term is generally used by individuals with a mild to severe loss. Many hard of hearing people can understand some speech with or without a hearing aid/s. Many of these individuals supplement their residual hearing with speech reading, visual aids, hearing aids and technical devices. Although they mainly communicate by speech, some hard of hearing people also use sign language.
When communicating with a hard of hearing person:
- Face the person directly and maintain eye contact
- Keep your face clear for speechreading
- Find an area that is well lit with little background noise
- Get the person's attention before beginning to speak (e.g. tap the person's shoulder)
- Speak clearly with regular volume, rephrase rather than repeat if you are not understood
When communicating with a deaf person:
- Ask what communication method is preferred (e.g. written messages, American Sign Language interpreter, speechreading)
- If an interpreter is present, address the deaf person directly and do not include the interpreter in the conversation.
- Write down key information such as addresses, appointment times or phone numbers.
- If you do not understand the deaf person, ask them to write down their message. You can contact Deaf Access Simcoe Muskoka should you need to book an interpreter for a future meeting.
A TTY is a special device available as a stand alone and also specialized through computer equipment that allows culturally Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing individuals to communicate on the telephone. Both parties having a TTY allows for a direct one to one conversation.
For those who do not have a TTY, they may contact Bell Relay Service (BRS). If you call (800) 855-0511, a BRS operator will type out what you wish to say to the TTY user and read what is typed back. For TTY users, 711 is dialed to access BRS.
Appropriate TTY etiquette dictates the use of some abbreviations. Two of the most common are "GA" for Go Ahead to indicate it is the other person's turn and "SK" for Stop Keying to indicate the call is complete.
TTY is used for concrete appointment times etc as opposed to conversing or gathering information.
Blackberry / email are used much more frequently. Second language users therefore tend to use short forms or abbreviations throughout conversations.