Guidelines for Deaf Particpation

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Guidelines initiatilly taken from an MIT Course on Deaf Culture with lecturer Carol Zurek (Statewide Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Support for the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services).

So you're going to have a Deaf participant...

Ask which sort of communication the Deaf/Hard of Hearing person uses

  • American Sign Language (official language)
  • Oral (learned to read lips + speak)
  • Sign Exact English (supposed to sign as if speaking English)
  • Total Communication (sign+speak at same time, things drop)
  • Cued Speech (didn't cover)

Oter aspects of communication, which aren't necessarily shared:

  • Home Signs
  • Visual Gestures

Know that Deaf Culture (yes, the double capitalization is intentional and respectful) is a super blunt culture which assumes digressions into storytelling, gorey details about accidents or medical issues, and honesty about appearance.

Facilitation Considerations

Communication Tips, including Gaining Attention

Always get attention before speaking - verify this has happened by estabilishing eye contact. Get attention not by shouting, but by waving or touching on shoulder (never on head).

Keep your face and mouth unobstructed. Speak clearly and at a normal pace, using appropriate volume (issues of volume are either already accounted for OR won't matter at all). You may need to repeat or rephrase, to provide extra context or words for understanding.

One-to-few works, one-to-many prevents being able to see what is going on.

Variables Affecting Communication

  • Line of sight and seating arrangements (U-Shaped room is best)
  • Sound scape: Poor acoustics, background noise
  • Visual Distractions
  • Insufficient lighting
  • Distance from speaker, their movement (and their facial hair!)

Translation Considerations

When/if hiring interpreters, look for folk who have certification by Registry of Interpreters for teh Deaf or National Coucil of Interpreting.

Translators swap between taking a signing role or a speaking role, need breaks sometimes.
Differentiation for interpreter for what was their mistake, and what was the initial speaker's.

Space abilities and support

Having an interpreter isn't the only way to interact!

  • FM setup (sort of like an API where anyone with various hearing needs can set their own requirements and get what they need from teh room)
  • CART - live transcription

Ways to demonstrate respect

Many Deaf people consider themselves to be a part of a distint cultural and linguistic group. Many are bilingual. They do not view themselves as disabled. There are two main approaches to responding to deafness - The medical view and the cultural view.

Medical View Cultural View
Focus on "ears" Focus on "eyes"
Hearing loss/disbility Just fine - no loss
Must fix hearing No need to fix hearing
Hearing school settings Mainstreamed OK, or Deaf School
Speechreading=important Speech training not important
Paternalistic - decide for you, take care of you, "hearing knows best" more of oppression

Culturally sensitive terminology

  • Disrespectful - Hearing impaired, Deaf-Mute, Deaf and Dumb
  • Respectful - Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened
"Hard of Hearing" often signals that someone doesn't know ASL, will need other support, such as FM or CART.