This is important, not for deaf people, but for their family and friends. Welcome to Vlogmas day 18. This is exactly one week before Christmas, and I thought it would be a good idea to give a few really, really simple, basic tips for family and friends of deaf people. This really depends a lot on how the deaf person and their family/friends connect. I tried to make this as general as possible, but some don’t really apply in some situations. Like for example, if the person speaks only, doesn’t sign, the way they connect with their family will be different than a person who signs only, doesn’t speak.
DON’T say: “Never mind.” “I’ll tell you later.” “It’s not important.”
The first one completely excludes them, makes them not feel included at all. It makes them feel not important. Second, tell you later. Will you really? Probably not. Not because you plan to not tell, no. Probably because you won’t even remember what it was. Third, not important. Maybe. But when it comes to family, friends, conversations, everything is important. And by telling them “it’s not important,” you’re kind of telling that person they’re not important. Not the message you want to send.
Don’t constantly give thumbs up. It’s done with good intentions, but… What do they get from it? Nothing. It’ be just “Thumbs up, okay, but no conversation. Thanks.” Thumbs up doesn’t qualify as a conversation or interaction. Actually, that’s barely even an interaction. Don’t do that. Make an effort.
Relating to the recent comment, make an effort to TALK to them in some way. Gesturing, signing, writing, ANYTHING. Even one-on-one talking, that means more to them than absolutely nothing. I’m lucky to have parents who sign and are willing to interpret for family conversations but… I’m in the very small minority. So many deaf people have no connection with their families at all. That’s why a lot of them don’t go home, they don’t feel home.
If that person’s lucky enough to have someone willing to interpret, try to keep the conversations to one person talking at a time, so that interpreter can keep up. (Regardless of their skill.) If no interpreter, at least make an effort to make sure the deaf person can see the faces of whoever’s talking, so they can try to keep up.
A fairly simple way to include them with the whole family: play games. But make sure they’re games that don’t require talking, or very little talking. A few games that don’t require talking: Uno. Various card games. Board games like Life (kind of), Parcheesi, backgammon. I know those are for limited numbers, but playing games is a good way to include them. Alternative games that require a little talking, but not much: Pictionary, charades, paper telephone/telephone pictionary. Paper telephone is a fun game to play with a big group.
This all can be summed up in one sentence: Make an effort to include them, in any way. And that will make their holiday all the better.
That’s it for my short holiday guide for family and friends of deaf and hard of hearing people. If you have any tips you want to add in the comments, please add them. For those who are family and friends of a D/HH person, they will really appreciate your effort, I’m serious.
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