Outreach & Education


Our Community

Deaf Access Simcoe Muskoka provides an equal access environment for individuals with hearing loss, their families and the community at large. Being deaf or hard of hearing can mean very different things to different people. Some individuals feel comfortable describing living with their specific identity as a person with hearing loss whereas for others it is still a challenge.

Commonly used terms include:

  • CULTURALLY DEAF – individuals who have had severe or profound hearing loss since birth or before language acquisition. Most identify with and participate in the language, culture and community of Deaf people unified by a common use of sign language and identify as a linguistic and cultural minority group.
  • ORAL DEAF – individuals with severe or profound hearing loss that primarily use speech to communicate with the use of amplification/technical devices, speech reading and/or sign supported speech.
  • DEAFENED or LATE-DEAFENED – individuals who have developed spoken language skills prior to gradually or suddenly losing their hearing. Most have a greater connection to the hearing community and communicate with visual supports such as speech reading, print or captioning.
  • HARD OF HEARING – individuals with mild to severe hearing loss who can understand some speech with or without technical supports, speech reading and visual aids.
Woman looking at smart phone in her hand

How We Communicate

Communication style or preference may be determined by one’s age at onset of hearing loss or deafness, educational environment, languages used in the family home, use of hearing technology or the area of Canada the individual was raised.


At Deaf Access, every consideration will be made to accommodate an individual’s communication preference.




  • Sign language (e.g. ASL, use of American Sign Language-English Interpreter)
  • Speech reading (face-to-face communication with focus on speaker’s mouth/lip movements)
  • Written language (handwritten or typed communication or documents)
  • Gestures/home signs (e.g. unofficial mutually agreed upon hand signals used inside the home or community)
  • Pictures/photographs (used as visual supports)
  • Equipment such as a teletypewriter (TTY), FM system or video conferencing as appropriate

Accessibility Considerations

A few tips to consider when interacting with someone with a hearing loss:


  • Determine communication preference and arrange accessibility services as needed (sign language interpreter or computerized notetaker)
  • Ensure the environment is well-lit and free of background noise
  • Speak clearly with regular volume and rephrase if misunderstood
  • Address the individual and not the accessibility service arranged (e.g. interpreter or notetaker)
  • Write down key information prior to or as provided in meeting (such as conference powerpoints, appointment date/times, addresses or phone numbers)
  • Summarize the discussion upon wrapping up as needed
group of older people sitting posing for photo and looking at camera around a table

Request a Presentation

Deaf Access staff are available to provide accessibility and advocacy education about deafness and hearing loss as requested by community members and organizations. Presentations can be customized to accommodate your group.


Contact us at (705) 728-3577 or email info@deafaccess.ca for further information.