Guidelines for making your event accessible for people who are deaf
Making your event accessible for those who are deaf or who are hard of hearing will allow you access the widest possible audience and enable more people to fully enjoy your event
Some of the information below has been kindly provided by the Irish Deaf Society. You can find more information and resources on their website www.irishdeafsociety.ie. Not all the information below may be appropriate for your venue or event, but hopefully within the extensive information provided you shall find some useful hints on how to make your event more inclusive.
Some Hints and Tips to Make Your Event More Accessible
- Please ensure that when you list your event on this Site you enter all the relevant information regarding provisions you have put in place for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
- All information on websites, for example, when you are announcing an event, should be translated into ISL (Irish Sign Language). A person who is a fluent user or qualified in Irish Sign Language can translate the content. Contact the Irish Deaf Society for details on how this can be arranged. Deaf people face many barriers when it comes to communication. Most services provide information through written English only. It should be noted that for many Deaf people English is their second language, so it should really be available through ISL.
- Have a text number available rather than a phone-call only number, an email address or fax number if people need to find out more information or booking is required.
- A good rule of thumb is to always ask the Deaf person how they want to communicate, never assume.
- Events should have an ISL interpreter present and make sure that this is advertised so people will know in advance
- At a talk or presentation, there should be an option for Deaf people to sit up front. The interpreter should be easily visible.
- Good lighting at events should also be considered. When people are signing or lip-reading it is essential that they be able to see each other.
- Make good eye contact. Look directly at the Deaf person. Don’t look away, cover your face, chew gum or have a pen in your mouth while communicating with a Deaf person.
- Don’t stand with a light or a window behind you. The light needs to be on your face – if not sure regarding the location, ask the Deaf person.
- Be responsive: nod rather than saying ‘hmmmm’. Use gestures, body language and facial expressions to communicate the emotion of a message where appropriate (hint: avoid being over dramatic)
- If the Deaf person wants to communicate by speech, you speak clearly and at a slightly slower pace, but don’t shout or over-enunciate mouth movements as this will distort your lip patterns. Keep your head fairly still.
- When working with an interpreter, where possible, give them preparatory notes. An Interpreter may want to research the topic they are interpreting. They may contact you before the assignment to clarify certain vocabulary they are not familiar with.
- Maintain eye contact with the Deaf person and address your questions towards them, not the interpreter. Avoid saying “tell her/him…”
- Out of courtesy, do not say things to the interpreter that you do not want repeated to the Deaf person. Similarly, do not ask the opinion of the interpreter about the Deaf person or invite them into the conversation.
- If your event is to be located in a space that has a hearing loop in place, ensure that it is used to its full affect and that your audience know that it is in place. For more on hearing loops read this pdf from DeafHear