back to top

How To: Approach A Deaf Person

Deaf people don't bite! Here are a few tips to help you break through those pesky language and cultural barriers and make some new deaf acquaintances.

Posted on

DO: Make eye contact and be sincere

Eye contact is a huge part of Deaf culture, if you want a deaf individual to pay attention to you, you'll need to catch their eye and continue looking them in the face throughout the conversation. This helps the deaf individual follow your body language and aids in lip reading.

DO: Ask the best way to communicate

Some deaf people prefer to write notes back and forth, while others may be comfortable reading lips. For short encounters, some deaf people prefer to use gestures and pointing. Each individual is different! If you are confused, simply ask the person in writing-- either on a piece paper or on your phone-- the best way to communicate.

DO: Expect physical contact

To get another person's attention, a deaf individual might gently tap them on the shoulder or wave their hand near that person's face. Depending on the situation, a deaf person might pat you on the back, arm, or leg to emphasize a point or demonstrate empathy. Generally physical contact is not intended to be disrespectful.

The truth is, deaf people often spend their lives being overlooked and avoided. When you make an effort to welcome deaf people into a hearing space-- when you make an effort to actually engage a deaf person in conversation-- you break down one more little piece of the communication barrier that keeps us all apart.

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!