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

People who are deaf or have hearing loss have individual communication needs and you should ask someone how best you can communicate with them. Not every tip below will be appropriate for every person who is deaf or has hearing loss.

Communication tips

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.

Download our communication tips as a poster (PDF, 76KB)

Other tools to help with communication

  • There are live speech-to-text apps available, though with varying levels of accuracy depending on background noise and speed of conversation.
  • Use Video Relay Services, such as InterpreterNow, for communicating with people whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language.