About Deafness

About Deafness

The RNID estimates that about 18.5%, 8.7 million people have some degree of hearing loss in the UK. That represents one in seven people and can range from slightly hard of hearing to profoundly deaf. The common cause of deafness is aging and three-quarters of people with hearing loss are over 60.

How Deaf People Communicate


  • People with a mild hearing loss have some difficulty following speech, mainly in noisy situations. Some wear hearing aids and find lip-reading useful.


  • People will have difficulty following speech without a hearing aid, particularly somewhere noisy. They will probably lip-read. Most can use a telephone if it is suitable for use with hearing aids.


  • Hearing loss at this level means that people will have difficulty following speech even with a hearing aid. Many also lip-read and they may use sign language. Most will find it hard to use the telephone.


  • Hearing aids may be of little or no benefit to people with this sort of hearing loss. If they have been deaf since birth or childhood, they may use sign language or lip-read.

How You Can Communicate With Deaf People

  • Here are some suggestions to help you communicate with people who lip-read and are hard of hearing.
  • Choose as quiet as place as possible – use a meeting room if necessary.
  • Sit or stand at the same level as the deaf person and three to six feet away from then.
  • Make sure the person is looking at you before you speak.
  • Introduce the topic of conversation.
  • Keep your face entirely visible and do not turn away while you are talking.
  • Face the light or your face will be in shadow.
  • If the person you are speaking to asks you to repeat something, try saying it using different words.
  • Do not exaggerate your lip patterns or facial expression and do not shout.
  • Speak clearly, a fraction slower than normal, keeping the rhythm of your speech.

Also Remember…

  • Always remember, people are as expressive with their hands and face as they are with their words, therefore, take note of the speaker’s expressions and gestures. They will help to illustrate the deaf person’s topic, attitude and mood within a conversation.
  • Check that the deaf person is able to understand you.
  • Be patient and take time to communicate.
  • Many deaf people have less hearing at high pitches than at low pitches. They may be able to hear people speak but not make out the words because they cannot hear the consonants, which are high pitched sounds. Hearing aids and inductive loop systems can compensate for higher pitch loss.
  • As most deaf people rely to some degree on lip-reading, difficulties can also arise over sounds such as B, P and M that look the same as one another when spoken.
  • Lip-reading requires a lot of skill and concentration.
  • Be patient and take time to communicate.