Are you making life harder for deaf people by doing these things?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Members of the deaf community in Suffolk have revealed some of the day to day challenges faced when you're hard of hearing in a noisy world.
Most deaf people rely on a combination of British Sign Language (BSL) and lip reading when communicating, however as many hearing people do not know any signs they can find it hard to understand what a deaf person is trying to say.
Richard Platt is chairman of the Ipswich Deaf Children's Society (IDCS) and like three of his five children, he is profoundly deaf.
"It is common that a lot of people don't know how to talk to us," he explained. "We face barriers everywhere.
"People put their hands over their mouths while they speak which means we can't lip read, they mumble their words or speak very quickly which makes it very hard for us to understand.
"A lot of deaf people will misunderstand words the first time so might need you to repeat what you've said several times and then people just get frustrated with us and say to 'forget it' and move on — they can be very rude.
"Face masks have made it much worse as we have to ask people to pull their mask down so we can understand what they're saying."
This week - Monday, May 3, to Sunday, May 9 - is Deaf Awareness Week and IDCS has organised a Green Day — the colour representing society — with local schools to increase awareness.
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After reaching out to over 200 schools they now have 10 entered into a finger spelling competition, to be held on any chosen day of the week.
Over 800 children are set to take part, wearing green for the day and donating £1 each, with the winning school getting a £50 Smyths Toy Store voucher.
Mr Platt is passionate about teaching BSL and says you even learn regional accents, just like with spoken language.
He has created a video with tips on how to communicate with deaf people, including teaching some sign language.
"The whole point of this is to raise awareness in children and adults," Mr Platt added. "If you teach people young about deafness then they will take that knowledge with them when they grow up and can also pass it on to their parents.
"Learning how to sign a few things might help you one day if you bump into a deaf person who needs directions or help with something."