Communicate with the Deaf


How to communicate with the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing

  • Keep in mind that Deaf people’s communication preferences may depend on their age, education, mental and physical status, language fluency, vision, role in the conversation (presenter, participant, observer), residual hearing, other disability and even gender.
  • Do not assume an individual’s most effective communication method.
  • Even if a Deaf person “speaks well,” this doesn’t reflect their ability to hear.
  • Factors such as the nature of the conversation and duration should be considered.
  • Deaf-Blind individuals have different communication needs, as well. They have various degrees of vision; some can see shadows and lights, while others can only see specific parts of the environment.

Communication/Interaction Do’s & Don’t’s

Calling the Deaf Person’s Attention/First Contact


– Face the Deaf individual and make eye contact. Speak at a normal pace.

– Do speak directly to the Deaf person (not the interpreter). Speak in 1st person.

– Allow time for information to be conveyed on both sides.


– Yell, talk loudly, or mumble.

– Cover your mouth or speak while looking away or turning your back.

– Stand too close; visibility becomes a challenge at a closer range.

– Get frustrated.

See our Resources Page for additional guides.

Request a Consultation



  • 508-699-1477 (voice); answering service supports non-business hours sending messages to on call staff
  • 508-809-4894 (videophone) for ASL users