Many deaf people depend on reading the lips of the person they are talking to. However, with the mask wearing happening across the globe, the deaf community expressed their concern for better communication. A deaf Christian shared advice on how to connect with them.
Many charitable organizations that focus on the deaf people are using the social media as a platform to raise awareness on how the pandemic has affected the deaf. Action on Hearing Loss, based in United Kingdom, shared some of the tips to communicate better.
They wrote, “Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly. Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention. Write things down – use pen on paper, text on device screens or whiteboard.”
Another charitable organization for the deaf is Signs of God. They promote the use of British Sign Language in Christian settings. Janice Silo, from Signs of God, told Premiere Christian News through an interpreter on how she feels about today’s situation and how Christians can help.
“It’s the bane of our lives to be honest. I went to hospital just for a few days recently and everyone I met, all the medical staff, had masks on, which is right. I was squinting, trying to read their lips and then I realized actually I can’t read their lips!”
She continued, “So they would pull it down and then they’d put it up again and then the next person would pull it down and put it up again and it was very, very confusing.”
Janice shared advice for people in public, “Don’t jump into thinking, ‘Oh, the person is ignoring me’. Or ‘they don’t have any respect for me’ or ‘they don’t have any respect for the help of others’ if they ask you to take your mask off. Just wait and see how people react, how they interact with each other.”
“It’s about patience..”
“It’s about patience really, that’s the biggest thing. You can write stuff down as well – that’s fine. Sometimes we ask people to write things and they behave as if writing something down is beneath them. Like they’d never heard of paper and pencil before! But writing stuff down is really useful. And also, when Coronavirus is finished and we don’t have to wear masks anymore, please continue all the stuff you’ve been doing, being patient, writing stuff down,” she added.
Even though the pandemic has affected everyone, she said that the lockdown has forced to create more options “because there’s been so much online with subtitles, with interpreters, church through zoom..”
Furthermore, she encourages business owners to learn sign language. “You’d be surprised, if you knew some sign language, as soon as we discover, for example, a hairdresser who can sign we pass that information around the community and then deaf people flock to that business.”