10 Tips for speaking with Deaf People

Here is some practical tips for being respectful and communicating well.


  • Make sure you have eye contact with the person before speaking

  • If there is an interpreter, speak to and look at the deaf person—not at the interpreter

  • Face the person to whom you are speaking (that helps with lip-reading)

  • Stand in good lighting and avoid standing so that light is on the face of the deaf person

  • Avoid background noise whenever possible

  • Move your mouth to articulate your words but don’t exaggerate them

  • Speak a little louder and slower than normal—but don’t shout or drag

  • Keep your hands away from your face—particularly your mouth

  • Use lots of facial expressions and body movements

  • If something is unclear, rather than just repeating the same thing, rephrase thoughts in shorter and simple sentences