WHAT IS DEAFNESS?
A physical condition where the individual lack sensitivity to sound. Hearing impairment, deafness, or hearing loss refers to the inability to hear things, either totally or partially. There are different levels of deafness. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. A person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing will require a Hearing Aid to assist them in hearing. There are different styles of Hearing Aids.
People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing use Sign Language to communicate. If help is needed in a public building or space, a professional Sign Language Interpreter should be there to assist those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Each country has its own Sign Language, just as in the case of spoken language. In Jamaica, we use Jamaican Sign Language (JSL). There are also variations in signs in the specific sign groups.
To get the attention of someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, gently tap their shoulder if their face is turned away from you. Do not touch them around their waist or other areas. You could also wave if they are facing in your direction. You could also flick the light switch on and off if you are in a building. If there is a wooden floor, you may stomp on the floor to get their attention. These are ways we use to get the attention of persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
When speaking to a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person, speak your greeting in a normal voice or tone. Do not shout or raise your voice. Most Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals do lip reading well. If they do not seem to be able to lip read, you may need to communicate by with them by writing using a notepad, pen/pencil etc. Write your name, greeting and introduction legibly. Use gesture and visual cues. Always be polite around the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. For full communication, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are more comfortable signing than speaking; so, learn Sign Language. When speaking with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, don’t change topic without alerting/letting them know what’s coming next. That can be confusing, changing topics without prior notice.
An understanding of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will help to appreciate them for who they are. This too will lead to smoother and better communication with them. Get acquainted with one today. Do not see first their disability but see the person and you’d be amazed by their gifts, talents, and amiable characteristics. Challenge yourself to befriend a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person.
Today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church operates a Church for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Portmore, St. Catherine on 7 Port Henderson Road. We welcome visitors and friends to come worship with us. You can communicate with Pastor Schooler if you would like to visit to ensure we are there on that particular Sabbath. We look follow to you worshiping and fellowshipping with us soon.