Old name, new purpose: why we’ve gone back to RNID

  1. Home
  2. Information and support
  3. How to communicate with someone who is deaf or has hearing loss

How to communicate with someone who is deaf or has hearing loss

Two women using British Sign Language

Our research shows many people aren’t confident in communicating with people who have hearing loss, or British Sign Language (BSL) users.

Here are some easy changes you can make when communicating with deaf people and people with hearing loss to be more inclusive, shared by our communities.

Three simple ways to start

1. Get my attention

Use simple gestures like waving to get my attention.

2. Face me

Please face me when you talk to me. Lots of people rely on lipreading to some degree to understand.

3. Be patient

Don’t be afraid to repeat or rephrase and try something different.

More communication tips

Here are some more tips from our community on how you could improve your communication:

Ask someone how they want to be communicated with 

Not all deaf people and people with hearing loss are the same. Different individuals may need you to make different changes when communicating with them in order to understand what you are saying. 

Re-phrase what you said

If someone doesn’t understand you, repeat what you said or phrase it differently, use plain language.

Face the person you’re speaking to

Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly – avoid shouting, speaking too fast or unnecessarily slow.

Use an interpreter

You should always follow the advice of the person with communication needs. If that’s booking an interpreter or speaking to a friend or relative.

Write it down

Use pen on paper, text on device screens, or whiteboards to write what you want to say.

Get their full attention

Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention.

Reduce background noise

In a noisy place, move to a quieter area if possible.

Join our campaign

Only 41% of the general public are confident communicating with people with hearing loss and just 29% with BSL users. Invite people back into the conversation.
Sign up to our communication tips

Other tools to help with communication

Communication at work

If you want to better support your employees, customers or colleagues in the workplace, find our top tips below.

Help us fight the stigma

“I have to lip read, watch your body language and facial expressions, listen to the tone of your voice and process all this information in seconds.” – Lynn. £50 could help us provide a workplace assessment for employees with hearing loss.
Donate to RNID

Back to top