Posts by Kathy MacMillan

04/11/2011

Communicating with Deaf Customers in the Library

Posted by Kathy MacMillan

The customer approaches the reference desk.  “How may I help you?” you ask politely.  She points to her ear and shakes her head, letting you know she cannot hear you.  Do you panic?  No need!  Follow the tips below to provide excellent customer service to your Deaf customers:

•Maintain eye contact.  This is incredibly important.  Breaking eye contact without warning, especially to carry on a spoken conversation with someone else, is rude to the deaf person.

•Make sure the deaf person is looking at you before you speak, sign, or gesture.  If you need to get his or her attention, tap him or her on the shoulder or make a small waving movement in his or her peripheral vision.

•Don’t assume that every deaf person speechreads.  Speechreading is a very difficult skill to master (even for hearing people), and many deaf people don’t find it effective beyond common phrases such as “How are you?”

•Also don’t assume that...

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