Helpful Hints from Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

When Working with Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Be aware that each individual who is deaf or hard of hearing is different. What one individual prefers may not be the same as what the next will prefer.
  • To get an individual’s attention, flicking the lights off and on or lightly tapping their shoulder or desk is perfectly acceptable.
  • Maintain eye contact with the individual rather than the service provider.
  • In any environment, only one person should speak at a time.
  • Be aware that inadequate lighting may interfere with communication.
  • When using visual aids, allow individuals time to read and then re-focus on the speaker/service provider.
  • The native language of many Deaf individuals is American Sign Language which has a different grammatical structure than English.
  • Be aware that interpreters/captionists are processing information. Allow the individual who is deaf or hard of hearing time to digest the information presented with this processing delay.
  • Interpreters/captionists are neutral parties who do not participate in class discussions.

Working with An Interpreter

  • Interpreters are providing a service for everyone. Consumers are individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing and hearing.
  • Everything that is spoken and/or signed will be interpreted.
  • Interpreters will speak/sign in first person.
  • To establish rapport, maintain eye contact with the person who is deaf or hard of hearing rather than the interpreter.
  • Interpreters are neutral parties. They do not engage in conversation during an assignment, nor do they interject personal opinions.
  • For ease of communication, the interpreter may stand or sit close to the speaker.
  • Speak at a natural pace. Whenever necessary, the interpreter may ask you to repeat or slow down.

If you have any further questions about working with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, an interpreter/captionist or would like more information, contact:

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Email: deafservices@necc.mass.edu
Phone: 978-241-7045 (VP/V)