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Deaf

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Proper Manners Concerning the Deaf

When taking public transportation

Airports, taxi stands, bus terminals, and other such crowded public transportation areas are less than ideal places for talking to the deaf. For those with communicative difficulties, the noises in these places can obscure important points and meanings. Also, drivers and other passengers are often in a hurry, making it difficult for the deaf to ask them to repeat what they said. Delays, cancellations, and other such changes often cause great difficulty for deaf people.

Drivers may take a few additional steps to ensure that the deaf and otherwise communication-impaired people are receiving the services they need. First, listen to these passengers carefully. If there is any misunderstanding, keep repeating the same message or instructions. Speak to these passengers as slowly and clearly as possible, giving them enough time to understand. If possible, write down important instructions, such as the numbers of exit gates or departure times.

At a restaurant

If you work at a restaurant and learn that a customer is deaf, guide them to their seat yourself instead of calling out their name or number. If possible, provide a table in a quiet area far from the kitchen. Also, if possible, seat them in a well-lit area so that they may communicate with their companions in sign or written language. Before talking to the customer, get their attention first and face them while speaking so that they can read your lips.

Receiving orders
In order to help a deaf customer, use a menu that lists—and preferably shows the images of—all the items available to order. Listen carefully to the customer’s order and repeat it to make sure that you have understood it correctly. If necessary, have the customer write down their order. If they point at an item on the menu, read it back to them out loud to make sure that it is the item they have chosen. Unless otherwise requested, do not ask a non-deafcustomer sitting at the same table to order for the deaf customer, anddo not assume that the non-deaf customer will pay the bill.

At a retail store

If you work at a retail store and receive a customer who is disabled, first confirm that the customer is disabled and attempt to determine what their service needs are. When talking to a deaf customer, make sure you stay face-to-face with them. Do not attempt to talk while walking or engaging in other activities. When the customer is ready to pay, either write down the price and other important messages or have the receipt ready. If you do not understand what they say, have them repeat it or write it down.

If the customer starts writing things down, ask them which they prefer-reading lips or communicating in written form. However, trying to explain everything that the deaf customermight needwill be time-consuming and exhausting for both you and the customer. Therefore, they may prefer to keep shopping on their own, which you should respect.

Communication (using body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal means)

Body language and facial expressions
To the deaf, body language and facial expressions can be far more expressive than speech, especially to those who do not know sign language. Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats can obstruct communication with the deaf. You do not need to exaggerate your gestures and facial expressions;just nod or shake your head occasionally to let the deaf person know you are listening attentively. Keep listening until they are finished talking. Try not to guess or complete their sentences for them.
Communication in writing
Communication in writing is particularly effective when the deaf person in question does not know sign language and/or when providing important information, such as addresses, train arrival and departure times, and names of medications. It is also useful for drawing maps, tables, or other such pictures necessary for clear understanding. When writing for deaf people, make sure your handwriting is legible. As they read what you have written, observe their facial expressions closely and make sure they understand.
Verbal communication
When you talk to a deaf person, speak at a volume a bit higher than normal, and also a little more slowly than usual. Make sure you keep things simple and plain, and pronounce all your words correctly. Do not leave incompletesentences hanging in the air. After speaking a full sentence, pause for a moment before moving on to the next sentence. When you want to change the topic, make a similar pause. If a new situation arises during a conversation (e.g., if someone rings the doorbell or the telephone rings), explain the situation to the deaf person before responding.

Telephone conversations

Some deaf people are able to talk on the telephone. However, it may be some time before they hear the telephone ringing and pick it up. Try to be patient and let the telephone continue ringing. Before talking on the phone, silence out all surrounding noises on your end and have your message ready. Speak in an active, plain, and clear tone, and mark the end of each sentence with a pause.

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