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April 28, 2006

Public Urged To Learn To Communicate With Deaf

From: Community Newswire, UK - Apr 28, 2006

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

EDUCATION Deaf, 28 Apr 2006 - 10:07

A national charity for deaf children has today unveiled new survey which reveals only a small number of the British public know how to communicate with a deaf person.

Despite more than half of those involved in the poll knowing someone who is deaf, only 14% said they knew how to communicate succesfully.

The survey has been carried out by the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) ahead of national Deaf Awareness Week which runs between May 1 and 7.

Charity chiefs are hoping to use the poll and the awareness week to encourage people to learn a few simple habits to help communicate with the thousands of deaf children growing up in the UK today.

The NCDS believes everyone can make communication a little easier by following a few simple guidelines which include: facing the person and getting their attention before you speak; maintaining eye contact; speaking clearly and not talking too quickly; using gestures to help explain what you are saying and if the person prefers using sign language and you find it difficult to understand, use pen and paper.

Staff at the charity are also urging people to learn some sign language so they can communicate with the deaf people who prefer to sign.

NDCS chief executive, Susan Daniels OBE, said: "Around three babies are born deaf every day and 90% are born to hearing parents with little or no experience of deafness.

"Deafness makes it harder for children to learn to communicate but everyone can help by being a little more aware of how to improve communication."

Young deaf actress Rebecca-Anne Withey, who plays Holly in BBC TV's "Grange Hill", is supporting the NDCS and encourages hearing people to be more deaf aware.

She said: "Communication is a two-way thing and there are endless ways that hearing people can communicate with a deaf person.

"Getting to know someone who's deaf means you have to consider a few simple things like speed of speech and keeping eye contact.

"Deaf awareness rids us of all those invisible barriers, allowing deaf and hearing people to hold conversations, make friendships and relationships and allows equal access to society for every individual.

"A deaf person simply has impaired hearing - it doesn't mean they are limited in their personality or capability to communicate."

The NDCS is the only UK charity solely dedicated to the support of deaf children and young people, their families and professionals working with them.

For more information about fundraising or about the work of the charity visit

Parents with concerns about their child's hearing can contact the NDCS Freephone Helpline on 0808 800 8880 (voice and text) or email


© 2006 Community Newswire