Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If a person has a hearing loss do I say they are deaf or hard of hearing or…?

A: The best approach is to respectfully ask the person for their preferred term.

Generally speaking, people who use sign language to communicate prefer the term ‘Deaf’. whereas people who use spoken language to communicate generally prefer the term ‘hard of hearing’ or ‘hearing impaired’.

Q: What is the main barrier to participation for people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

A: Communication.

Individuals and organisations must become familiar with the appropriate communication strategies to ensure their program is inclusive.

Q: How do I communicate with a deaf person?

A: Ask the person for their communication preference and respect their choice.

E.g. sign language • sign language interpreters • speaking and listening with hearing aids or cochlear implants • lip reading • reading/writing • mime and gesture.

Use visual language tools to enhance communication e.g. Demonstrate • draw diagrams • show examples.

Q: How do people who are deaf or hard of hearing understand significant instructions and sounds when playing sport?

A: If instructors and team members become familiar with specific communication strategies, deaf people have the opportunity to be included in their sport.

For example: facing the deaf person whilst giving instruction • using signs and/or specific gestures or signals • engaging interpreters when explaining the rules of the game • demonstrate what is required • use flags and/or visual alerts like lights/torches to replace sounds • waving your hand or tapping on the upper arm to get their attention.

Q: Can all deaf people lip read well?

A: No. Just because a person has a hearing loss doesn’t necessarily mean they are good at lip reading.

Only 30% of words are clearly visible on the lips therefore relying on lip reading for important communication is unreliable and can lead to misunderstanding.

Lip reading requires a lot of energy and concentration and is therefore difficult to sustain for long periods of time.

Q: Can I write things down to communicate?

A: Communicating via pen and paper, email and other text based means may be useful for short messages.

English literacy skills vary greatly amongst individuals with a hearing loss. Auslan users often regard English as their ‘second language’, therefore they may have imperfect English literacy skills while their Auslan skills may be sophisticated. For extended communication it is best to engage a sign language interpreter.

Q: What are sign language interpreters?

A: Accredited professionals, bound by a Code of Ethics, who convey information between deaf people who use a sign language and hearing people who use a spoken language.

Interpreters provide the opportunity for both parties to communicate in their natural language so neither party is disadvantaged in the communication process. Interpreters can be booked as contractors through agencies or directly as freelancers. Clubs can apply for grants to cover the costs of interpreters.

Q: How can I contact a person who is deaf or hard of hearing?

A: Ask the person for their preferred means of contact. Some options include:

Mobile SMS • email • telephone via the National Relay Service (NRS) or Video Relay Service (VRS) • teletypewriter (TTY) • instant messaging • fax