While the holiday season can bring a welcome break from your normal schedule and routine, there are also downsides. Seeing relatives you don’t see every day, and attending more events than usual, can be nerve-wracking and exhausting for deaf teenagers. Did I mention exhausting? Yep, so so tiring!
Deaf or hard of hearing teens face unique challenges during this season of summertime excitement. Not least of which is dying to take out your hearing aids when family occasions turn into sweaty endurance tests during summer heat! Never fear, we’re ready to help you have a relaxing Christmas, socialising comfortably with friends and family!
Share our tips with family and friends to help them understand how they can help you feel included at family gatherings.
Tips To Having Deaf-Friendly Christmas
Here are our best tips to cope with Aussie Christmas events when you or a guest are deaf.
- Try using tablecloths to keep dishes and cutlery quieter.
- Seat everyone at round tables for clear lines of sight.
- Don’t talk when your mouth is full or speak over others.
- If you do sign, sign clearly, without a fork or napkin in your hand.
- If eating out, request a quiet, brightly lit section.
Meeting up at large gatherings
- Be mindful that large group conversations can be hard to manage.
- Men with beards can be hard to interpret, so if you have a beard, speak clearly! Maybe even have trim so we can see your lips better!
- If asked to repeat what you have said, repeat the whole sentence not just part of it. If it’s still not understood, please rephrase it. The worse thing to say is “don’t worry about it”!
- Not everyone signs or lip reads. If you’re unsure about how to communicate with a deaf person then simply ask them what they prefer. The solution might simply be to stand to their left because they hear better on that side.
- Even the best hearing devices can experience interference from crowd noise, air con buzzing, drinking glasses clinking, TV in the background, tiny ankle-biters screaming, pets and more. Noise overload is common.
- Consider sitting in a quiet zone, or in a less-crowded room.
- Hosts can control the environment more, so choose rooms without echo and keep music low or just have a room like this as an option.
Share our tips with family and friends to help them understand how they can help reduce hearing overload.
- This is a typical activity amongst families during the holiday period and one of the easiest to accomodate for deaf people. Turn on subtitles!
- If attending a public cinema, check their website to see what move times they have with closed captioning.
Holiday phone calls
- Phone calls can be tough. Text is often preferred but if that doesn’t cut it then use video tech like FaceTime to make lip reading easier.
- Don’t phone at all! Send a quick pic with a happy message!
- Setting the mood for Christmas typically calls for low lighting, flickering fairy lights and Christmas candles, which can bring extra communication challenges for deaf people. Have a space available that has a well lit room so conversations can be understood.
- It’s nice to feel included so if you’re the host then allocate jobs! Make the sauce, carve the turkey, set the table! Making everyone feel part of the day is special.
As always during Christmas, we wish you joy and welcome relaxation. We hope our tips help make the festive season more fun for you, your friends and extended family (deaf or not).
Don’t forget to check in with our Hear for You community for support and practical advice to live your best life!