Difficulty with hearing, mental health, understanding or cultural norms can present as a person’s seemingly difficult behaviour. Helpful guidance is provided below for dealing with members of the public who are Deaf or who have a hearing loss.
When you are talking to the person, make sure you do not have your back to a light source (such as a window). This will make it more difficult for members of the public with a visual difficulty to see you or for members of the public with a hearing difficulty to lip read, as you will appear as a silhouette.
It is very difficult for people with hearing difficulties to listen or lip-read if you have your hands in front of your mouth. This is equally true if you turn away from the person while speaking. Look directly at the person. Do not look away, down at your notes, cover your face, chew gum, or have a pen in your mouth while talking. Speak clearly and at a slightly slower pace, but do not shout or exaggerate mouth movements, as this will distort your lip patterns. During meetings, make sure that only one person speaks at a time.
Provide Irish Sign Language (ISL) interpretation to people who request it. When you publicise a public event or make appointments, say that you will provide Irish Sign Language interpreters or real-time captioning if members of the public ask for them. Say how much notice you will need to arrange an interpreter. For example, you could say, “If you have accessibility requirements, please tell us at least 3 weeks before the appointment”. When working with an interpreter talk directly to the Deaf person, and not the interpreter. Do not ask the interpreter’s opinion. Make sure that the interpreter sits next to you and that the Deaf person can see both of you clearly.
A new text relay service will be launched by ComReg and telecommunication providers in 2017. This will enable people who cannot make voice calls to contact people/businesses in real-time via a relay operator. Customers of all service providers will have access to it. Customers will be able to download an App and they will be able to make calls from a smart phone, ipad, laptop etc.
Helpful guidance is provided below for dealing with seemingly difficult members of the public. This includes:
Try to pass on as much information as possible to the referral, so that the person does not need to explain their situation again.
Verbal Communication Checklist