Communications Tips - General


  • The deaf experience is diverse, and each deaf person needs to be considered individually.  Deafness may be anywhere from mild to profound.  Communication will be affected by many factors, including the degree of deafness, whether sign language is known, oral and written English ability, skill at lip/speech-reading and the effectiveness of hearing aids/cochlear implants in particular situations (e.g. groups in areas with background noise). 
  • The best way to find out how best to communicate with a particular deaf person is to ask them!
  • When speaking always be face-to-face, at a range of up to a couple of metres – at best it is difficult to lip-read from the far end of the court!
  • Before you start to talk, get the attention of the deaf person you want to talk to.
  • To get attention of a deaf person an appropriate procedure could be:
    • Call their name
    • Move into their field of vision and give them a wave
    • If these steps don’t work, and if appropriate in the situation, tap them gently on the shoulders or elbow
  • Speak normally.  Don’t shout or mumble – just speak in a normal clear speaking voice.
  • Don’t yell to get the attention of a deaf person.  Even if it successfully gets their attention, nobody likes being yelled at!
  • Don’t throw tennis balls towards a deaf person to get their attention.
  • Learn the basics of sign language (Auslan).  Even if the deaf people you know don’t use Auslan, it is a great way of understanding the importance of the visual element of communication.
  • Deaf often feel that it takes extra effort by others for them to be fully involved, and sometimes are reluctant to be a hassle for other people.  So be sure to reassure them that they are welcome - a bit of goodwill goes a long way.


Communications tips from various perspectives: