Deaf Awareness Week 2024

This month it is Deaf Awareness Week, and with it some important conversations around deafness.

On this subject, the RNID’s campaign this year for deaf awareness week is ‘It Does Matter’. They published new research this week about the negative attitudes that deaf people regularly deal with.

Just over half of respondents said that they were excluded from conversations, with others in those conversations saying ‘it doesn’t matter’. As one person is quoted as saying, ‘when people say it doesn’t matter, it feels like they’re saying I don’t matter’.

According to their survey:

  • 67% said that have experienced negative attitudes
  • 48% have experienced these negative attitudes from their own family
  • 47% said that members of the public have shouted at them or talked loudly at them
  • 54% said that they were regularly excluded from conversations, with people saying ‘it doesn’t matter’ when asked to repeat things
  • 41% of deaf people
  • 59% of BSL users said people ignore them in public settings.

These attitudes continue in workplaces and in public services, causing deaf people to feel excluded, isolated, disrespected and lower in confidence.

Some of these attitudes are caused by a lack of awareness about deafness and hearing loss. For example, many people don’t feel confident interacting with deaf people and worry about getting it wrong.

woman facing camera, with BSL sign for love

The RNID have published communication tips as well as continuing their work for deaf awareness. You can read more about their campaign here

The BDA are continuing their ‘In Our Hands’ campaign, fighting for access to BSL for every deaf child and their family. You can support their campaign here

They are also campaigning for native BSL users to teach the new GCSE BSL in schools.

With so many people taking action to change attitudes, raise awareness and bring BSL into the public eye, hopefully things will start to change for the better.

Here are 6 tips to be more deaf aware

  • Acknowledge that everyone has different communication preferences, some people sign, others lipread or use hearing aids. In some situations it may be easier to write things down or use a transcription app on your phone.
  • If someone doesn’t hear you the first time, try using different words instead of repeating.
  • Don’t shout or exaggerate your lip patterns.
  • Make sure the other person can see you clearly, don’t sit with your back to a light source, or cover your face when speaking.
  • Be patient, if the situation was reversed, how would you feel if you couldn’t join in conversations or jokes.
  • Don’t be shy. If you chat to a deaf person, don’t worry about getting things wrong – they will appreciate that you made the effort.

If you’d like to find out more, Deaf Unity run regular deaf awareness courses and sign language courses in London and online.

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