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For some deaf people, English is not their first language. It may be British Sign Language instead. Clarity of speech and text will help in communicating.


A person with a hearing impairment may pick up a proportion of your words in a statement. They may then ask you to repeat it so that they can hear some of the missing ones. You should repeat the statement exactly as you said it before.


Text phones, such as Minicoms or Uniphones, are available where both users can send and receive typed text. Organisations providing this service should ensure that it is reliable, with sufficient staff proficient in using the phones to cover for sickness and holidays. Regular practice is important.


Deaf people also like to use fax machines as it gives an opportunity to compose questions and then to consider the reply. Service providers should provide fax telephone numbers in their contact information.


At events or on difficult or important topics it may be necessary to provide a BSL signer. These can be found by contacting the local deaf association. They can also advise on the availability of lip speakers for people who can lip read.


Another facility suitable for larger events is a Palentype. An operator types what is being said, as it is being said, into a keyboard and the text appears on a screen in front of the audience.


With all these facilities at public events, if outlines or notes of what is being said can be available before the event, copies should be made available for the interpreters.


Background sound makes communication difficult for all of us and particularly so for people with hearing impairments. When arranging events, if facilities are being provided for those with hearing difficulties, don't forget the simple services such as offering seats near the speaker or providing workshops in quieter areas than main halls. This may need to be done discretely as some people with disabilities do not want to make it obvious.


As indicated in the Information/Alarms section, warnings and other information should be given visually as well as audibly. Lights can be flashed in emergencies (as long as everyone has been told what it means). Flashing boxes can be hung on doors so that a hearing impaired person knows when somebody is knocking.


Many hearing aids have a 'T' switch which allows them to pick up magnetic waves from a telephone rather than the usual sound waves. This cuts out background sound while on the telephone.

This induction technology can be used on a larger scale by providing a small loop at a counter or a larger loop round a meeting room or a large hall. In a hall, the best effect might be obtained near the edge of the room where the loop is located.

The loop consists of a microphone and a small amplifier unit, which sends signals into the induction loop. These helps cut out background sound and reduces the need to use a loud voice (which probably doesn't help any way). In this way communication is more positive, confidentiality can be kept and events enjoyed. Pat M of the Building Regulations requires induction loops in appropriate places such as reception areas, meeting rooms and halls.