Deaf Awareness Week 2022: How you can celebrate and support people with hearing loss

Last updated at 08:57
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It is estimated that more than 150,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language

Deaf Awareness Week is taking place from 2 to 8 May 2022 and this year it's all about helping people celebrate deaf identity and feel confident with their deafness.

There are more than 50,000 young people who are deaf or have some hearing problems in the UK today, according to the National Deaf Children's Society.

Keep reading for more information about what being deaf is and how you can support people in your life who have hearing loss.

If you're deaf then let us know in the comments what you love about being deaf, what being deaf means to you, and what might surprise people about being deaf.

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What does it mean to say someone is deaf?

Deafness is another way to describe hearing loss.

Hearing loss is very common; many people experience hearing loss as they get older.

In fact, did you know that there are some very high-pitched sounds that your parents or grandparents can't hear but that you can?

But as with lots of disabilities, hearing loss can be mild to severe.

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This means that some people lose their hearing all together or are even born without being able to hear.

Sadly, some deaf people do have negative experiences at school and with friends that can make them feel isolated.

The good news is that people who experience hearing loss are not alone, and thankfully there are lots of groups and charities in the UK who support people with hearing problems.

How do people with hearing loss communicate?
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Hearing aids is just one of the ways in which people with hearing loss may be able communicate

Sometimes you may not be able to notice someone is deaf or has hearing loss.

There are lots of ways a person with hearing loss can communicate and understand what you are saying.

For example, lip reading is where you are able to watch the movement of someone's mouth to interpret what they are telling you.

Some people use hearing aids - these are devices that you wear in or around your ear that makes external sounds louder for the wearer.

Radio aids can be used in schools - this is where the teacher wears a microphone which sends an 'amplified' signal of their voice into someone's hearing aid.

Closed captioning - where speech is written and noise is described using text on screen - can be used to follow videos.

What is British Sign Language?
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Some people with hearing loss communicate with sign language.

This is where they move their hands in different ways to communicate words, letters and numbers.

Different countries often have their own versions of sign language. In the UK, most sign language users would use British Sign Language.

According to the Royal Association for Deaf people - 87,000 people across the UK who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their main or preferred language.

What can I do to support people with hearing loss?
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WATCH: Deaf Awareness Week - 'This is how I want you to talk to me'

There are lots of ways to support people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

One of the best things you can do is to make sure they are never excluded.

Deaf people are often excluded from groups and activities because people assume that they will not understand or be able to follow conversation.

This isn't true at all.

In order to make things easier for people with hearing loss, remember to do the following:

  • Do not cover your mouth
  • Face someone directly without moving your head too much
  • Do not tell them that you will "explain it later" or that "it doesn't matter" if they miss a part of the conversation - repeat it for them if you can
  • Try not to speak to them when they are facing away from you or watching something else
  • In a group, try not to speak all at once as this can be confusing

And most importantly, if you're not sure what to do - ask!

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