Tips to help hearing-impaired enjoy holidays

http://www.southwestiowanews.com/articles/2010/12/20/council_bluffs/news/doc4d0d6c963b238553106589.txt

Holidays can be stressful for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Background noise and crowded rooms make communication that much tougher.

Iowa School for the Deaf has offered the following tips when interacting with hearing-impaired friends or family members during the holiday season, and for any time there is a large gathering of people:

– Hearing aids also amplify sounds such as passing cars, telephones and even sounds from household appliances. Eliminate as much background noise as possible.

– Avoid sitting in front of windows or mirrors. They reflect light, and make it harder to read lips or expressions.

– Get the person’s attention before starting the communication. Be aware that people with hearing loss work hard to understand conversations and tire easily.

– Alert the deaf or hard-of-hearing person when the conversation topic changes. Try to conduct one conversation at a time.

– Pre-teach a game that doesn’t require a lot of conversation to the deaf or hard-of-hearing child or adult. Bring the game so all can play.

– Use closed captioning on the television. It may be distracting to you, but the entertainment will be of little or no benefit to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person without the captions.

– Open gifts one at a time and announce the gift recipient as well as the gift giver.

– Text, even if you are sitting beside the deaf person with whom you are texting. Allow texting to be used at the holiday dinner for the benefit of the deaf or hard-of-hearing person. Have pen and paper available for a back-up or when texting is not an option.

– Stay close to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person with whom you are communicating. Break into smaller tables for more manageable conversation.

– When the person asks you to repeat an aside, repeat it. The comment may not be important to the conversation, but if you don’t repeat it, the deaf or hard-of-hearing person may think you don’t feel he or she is important enough to repeat the comment.

Iowa School for the Deaf is a referral-based pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational option for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. No tuition, board or fees are charged. Day and boarding programs are available.

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