Lipreading students

Tips for communicating online with deaf and hard of hearing people

5 May 2021
Posted in: News

In the UK, 11 million people have hearing loss and at least 4.4. million people with hearing loss are of working age so the chances are that you will have a colleague who will struggle with their hearing.

That’s why this Deaf Awareness Week we are sharing some practical tips from our lipreading team for including deaf and hard of hearing people in an online meeting.

Communication and understanding can be difficult for someone with a hearing loss especially now we have all moved to a digital world. Most people communicate via video calls so lipreading has become much harder. Your face appears much smaller, just in 2 dimensions and possibly blurred or even off-screen at a particular moment. Lipreading is going to be very difficult even for people who normally lipread well face to face.

Most deafened and hard of hearing people rely on lipreading and any remaining hearing they may have through a hearing aid or a cochlear implant. Most of them do not use sign language so being able to hear and see you as clearly as possible is vital.

10 tips on how to communicate online with deaf and hard of hearing people

  • If you are hosting a meeting, contact the person before the meeting and ask if they need any support
  • Mute yourself when not speaking to reduce background noise.
  • Speak one at a time and ask participants to raise their hand if they want to speak before unmuting their microphone so that it’s clear who is speaking next.
  • Have a clear agenda to provide structure and contextual clues to what is being said.
  • Speak clearly and slow down a little so that the captions are more likely to be accurate.
  • Try to keep meetings brief and to the point. Listening, lipreading and reading captions is very tiring for someone with a hearing loss.
  • Using the chat facility for comments can be helpful.
  • For video conferencing it is helpful if the camera is square-on and everyone is well lit from the front.
  • If the source of light is behind the individual then faces might be in shadow which makes lipreading harder.
  • If you have any notes or minutes from the meeting, these will be really useful for the deaf person to refer to afterwards and fill in the gaps for anything they have missed.

City Lit's Centre for Deaf Education

City Lit has provided support for deaf people at its heart right from our establishment, in 1919. Some of the first courses ever offered by City Lit were lipreading classes for deafened soldiers returning from World War I. Over the years, we have grown to become an internationally-renowned centre of a wide range of provision - it is the largest centre of its kind in Europe. Our staff is a mixed group of deaf and hearing professionals; all highly skilled in their own areas of specialist expertise.

Browse our Centre for Deaf Education courses >

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