12 easy ways to better serve deaf
IN response to a recent incident when a deaf person with
an assistance dog was asked to leave a restaurant, national charity Action on
Hearing Loss is calling on all businesses to make their staff better aware of
how to communicate with their deaf customers.
James Rowe, Action on Hearing Loss Executive Director, Commercial Services
explained:- "While we still get reports of bad customer service
experienced by people with hearing loss, most frequently this is due to the lack
of knowledge on be½ of the staff rather than the desire to discriminate.
Good customer service is the defining factor of any good business. People living
with deafness and hearing loss are valuable customers and deserve the same level
of attention as their hearing peers. By following these simple tips and by
better understanding of their communication needs, businesses can make a big
difference to the quality of services they provide to deaf customers."
Action on Hearing Loss customer service tips when
interacting with people who are deaf or have hearing loss:-
► Don't panic; this will make both you and your customer uncomfortable.
► Let the customer take the lead in how they communicate; some will
lipread and sign, while others will prefer to talk or write.
► As a rule, have a pen and paper nearby at all times to avoid having to look for
them. Don't be afraid to use them!
► In a restaurant environment, train your
staff in some simple signs and encourage them to take the time to write notes
and pass them back and 4th to the
customer; that will help to find out about any allergies.
► Always face the person you are speaking to and make sure you have their
attention before you start speaking.
► Keep your distance; Stand a metre or 2 away from the deaf person. This is
important for hearing aid users, lipreaders and signers.
► Think about your surroundings; good lighting and quiet background music
make conversations easier.
► Keep your voice at a steady volume; shouting can be uncomfortable for
hearing aid users, and may come across as aggressive.
► Consider assistance dogs; these dogs are doing a service and should
never be refused entry or stroked without permission.
Always remember to talk directly to the person you are communicating with, not
► Don't be afraid to check whether the person understands what you are saying and,
if not, try saying it in a different way.
► Instead of phoning, use text, email, instant messaging or Facebook to contact
Action on Hearing Loss runs courses in Deaf and Disability training, which help
business to understand more about Deaf accessibility and the importance of
assistance dogs. To find out more call:- 0333 240 5658 or send an