‘Tis the season to be deaf aware!
With Christmas coming up, there is a lot to get ready, from buying gifts and wrapping presents, to picking up a turkey.
If you’re spending Christmas with family or friends who are deaf or have hearing loss, it’s important to consider how to make the seasonal celebrations enjoyable for them, too.
We asked our supporters for their top tips of how family and friends can make communication easier at Christmas.
Our Christmas tips:
- Ask how you can help
Everyone is different, so ask the person who is deaf or has hearing loss what you can do to make communication easier. For example, they might need to see your face when you’re talking, or they might need the subtitles on if you’re watching a film together.
- Make lipreading easier
Make sure the room you are in for your Christmas get together is well lit – candles and fairy lights alone won’t be much use to people who lipread. Don’t cover your mouth when you’re speaking, and face the person who is lipreading. Try not to speak with your mouth full as this will make it harder for them to lipread you.
- Take it in turns to speak
Try not to speak over each other – it’s impossible to lipread more than one person at a time and your family member will quickly get lost in the conversation. Speak clearly and not too slowly, and don’t shout as this can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users. If someone doesn’t understand what you said, try repeating or explaining it a different way.
- Keep background noise low
If you’re playing festive music or if there is background noise, keep the volume low. This will make it much easier for people to hear, and it will help anyone who lipreads to focus on what you are saying.
- Help people follow the conversation
If the topic of conversation suddenly changes, make sure everyone is aware – maybe ask them a question to check.
And crucially, if someone who is deaf or has hearing loss asks you to repeat something, never say “it doesn’t matter”. If you do that, you’re taking away their opportunity to be part of the conversation, and you might make them feel like they don’t matter.
Harriet Oppenheimer, Deputy Chief Executive at RNID, said:
“For lots of us, Christmas is a time of big family get togethers, noisy work Christmas dos and catching up with old friends. But we also know that Christmas can be an isolating time if you are deaf or have hearing loss or tinnitus, and our supporters have told us that they can feel left out of the festive fun going on around them.
“Being deaf aware at Christmas doesn’t have to mean making big changes; there are small things you can do which will make the day a lot more enjoyable for your deaf family member or friend and allow them to be part of the celebrations.”