Deaf Awareness Week: Learn a phrase a day

Two colleagues using sign language

ITV Signpost is this week challenging you to learn a phrase a day to mark Deaf Awareness Week.

The awareness week, running from May 3-9, aims to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of hearing loss and deafness across the UK.

That is 1 in 5 people in the UK population.

The hashtag, #DAW2021 is also being used as part of an online campaign to celebrate Deafness, raise awareness and encourage change and positivity.

Here at ITV, we're proud to work with a multi-skilled team of professionals who provide on-screen sign language content.

ITV Signpost runs British Sign Language-accessible services for sign users online.

The ITV Signpost team employs both deaf and hearing people working in a bi-lingual environment.

Everyday this week, they are posting on social media with a new phrase in British Sign Language.

Deaf awareness tips:

The UK Council on Deafness has listed tips of being more deaf aware Credit: UK Council on Deafness

Did you know?

  • Hearing loss and deafness is defined as a hidden disability.

  • As well as BSL, there are international sign languages including American Sign Language and French Sign Language. 

  • Within the UK, there are regional variations of BSL just like there are with spoken language.

  • Lip-reading helps deaf people to understand what others are saying, but even the best lip-readers still miss up to 40% of what has been said. 

  • The Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists highlighted that the rise in the use of face masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic makes it harder for people with hearing loss to communicate. Face coverings with a transparent panel over the mouth have now been created so that people can still lip-read through masks. 

The British Deaf Association has written a beginners’ guide for communicating with Deaf people. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • For Deaf people with limited hearing, or lip-reading skills, speaking clearly will help

  • Speak clearly in whole sentences, without using abbreviations.

  • Be prepared to repeat yourself if the lip-reader doesn’t understand you first time

  • Even the best lip-readers only catch less than half of the words which are said to them, natural facial expressions and hand gestures can really help

  • Don’t be tempted to speak slowly, loudly or exaggerate your mouth movements, because that just makes things harder for the person trying to understand you

  • Make good eye contact; look directly at the deaf person, don’t turn away, and don’t cover your face or mouth

  • Remember to wait until the person is looking at you before you attempt to communicate

  • Don’t stand with a light or a window at your back; the light needs to be on your face

  • Begin the conversation by saying what you want to talk about

  • Be responsive; nod rather than saying “mmhmm”. Use gestures and body language where appropriate

  • Do speak clearly and slightly slower, but don’t shout as this will distort your lip patterns; keep your head fairly still

  • If you’re really stuck you can write something down

  • Best of all, learn British Sign Language!