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Let’s sign with the times for Deaf Awareness

“Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do except hear.” – King Jordan

Did you know that May 1st–7th is Deaf Awareness Week? There are 12 million people in the UK with hearing loss. Clearer communication brings the world together – so how can we be more deaf aware, both in the classroom and in our daily lives?

We don’t expect you to learn sign language in a week! While a lot of the deaf community don’t see their deafness as a disability, it’s important to remember that those who are deaf or have hearing loss can sometimes have additional communication needs.

Keep It Clear with these Tips from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID):

  • Get their attention with simple gestures, such as pointing or waving.
  • Use plain language. Re-phrase if they don’t understand you.
  • Face the person so they can see your lips. Avoid shouting and speaking too fast or slow.
  • Use their preferred interpreter. There’s a variety – sign language interpreters, note-takers, palantypists, lip speakers, or a nominated friend / relative.
  • Write on paper, device screens, or whiteboards.
  • Reduce background noise, maybe moving to a quieter area.

But most importantly, ask what will help each person!

It’s important to pay attention to your body language and facial expressions – as without sound, those who are deaf or suffer from hearing loss often look for additional signs on the tone of a conversation, room, or situation. It can also take time to process sight or touch communication.

Bridge the gap with helpful Apps

There is an ever-growing variety of tools and software that you can use in your everyday life to help those around you communicate. They are a touch of magic!

Have an iPhone? Why not try out Hearing Helper? It’s free to use and best for 1-to-1 conversations or transcribing speech for notes.

Have an Android? Google Live Transcribe can flag up non-speech sounds, vibrate when your name is mentioned, and apply various options to allow the person you’re speaking with to type back part of the conversation for clarification.

Need some quick resources on using sign language in the college? Download your free finger spelling alphabet.

Worried about your hearing?

  • Why not take the RNID hearing test via their website? You can also find out more about deaf awareness, local sign language classes, and how to make a difference to those around you with hearing loss.
  • Are you affected by hearing loss at college? Why not get in touch with the Student Services team to find out how they can support you throughout your studies with South & City College Birmingham? Simply email them using:

If you take away one thing from this week, let it be the aim to communicate that much clearer in the future – by thinking about the needs of others around us.