- Wait until the person can see you and is looking at you before speaking. The person cannot lip/speech read you unless they are looking at you. Make eye contact with the person. Then begin to speak.
- Never speak directly into the person’s ear. Speaking into the ear prevents any attempt to speech read. Speaking into the ear does not make the sound clearer.
- Try to position yourself about three to six feet from the person when speaking to him/her. Too close or too far and the deaf person has a more difficult time seeing you clearly.
- Speak at your normal rate and use appropriate hand gestures and facial expressions. Speaking slower distorts your speech and makes it more difficult to speech read.
- Avoid chewing, eating or covering your mouth with your hands while speaking. These activities make speech reading much more difficult if not impossible.
- Do not exaggerate your words when speaking. Exaggerating your words distorts them and makes speech reading impossible.
- Give clues when changing subjects. Simple things like telling the new subject make it easier for the deaf person to follow the conversation. Pointing to the speaker as different people talk in a group also facilitates communication.
- Be aware of lighting. If the lighting is not on the deaf person’s face, it should make it easier to speech read or understand sign language. If the deaf person has to look into bright light to “catch” the conversation, it will be difficult to maintain that view for a long time.
- Choose a quiet site for communication. Hearing aids amplify ALL sounds. In a noisy environment, a person with a hearing aid is easily confused and frustrated. Also, a busy area is “noisy” visually to the deaf person using sign language. It makes it more difficult to focus on the conversation.
- Rephrase your statement into shorter, simpler sentences. Think of other ways to say what you want. If the deaf person does not understand the first way, rephrase it and give him/her some other words to speech read.
This information was distributed by Maggie Smedley. You can read more from the handout by clicking here.