Deaf Awareness – What a Difference it Makes!

The unprecedented arrival of Covid-19 was a pretty horrid time for many of us; some it affected more than others for a variety of reasons. While I understood the need for the wearing of masks, it didn’t negate the immense difficulties it presented to everyday dealings and interacting with hearing people.

I have been aware, most of my life, that I rely heavily on lip reading. The mask mandates really hammered home the extent of just how reliant I was. I had to tell people at the start of each interaction that I was Deaf to pre-empt communication barriers and hope for some understanding and allowances during our (more likely than not) mis-communication.

One small incident stands out in my mind.

I went to the local Donut King during the time of *mask mandates and there a young fella served me. During our interaction, he asked me a question and I could not understand him. I asked him to repeat himself and once again – I missed it.

I explained that I was Deaf and I needed to read his lips, so asked if he could remove his mask.

He looked around in alarm, absolutely horrified at my request!

He instead kept repeating his question with his mask on and so our communication reached a stalemate.

*During the mask mandates, there was Government policy that stated when communicating with people who rely on lip patterns and facial expressions for communication, the ‘allowance’ of removing one’s mask while simply maintaining the 1.5m distance.

Thankfully a young co-worker edged up to him, simply removed her mask, repeated the question… and the rest of the transaction was seamless and trouble-free.

As I walked away with my milkshake and donut, I marvelled at the ease with which a simple everyday interaction could flow with a little bit of awareness.

I was surprisingly appreciative of this girl.

I wish I had asked that girl how she was able to communicate so well with me. Was it innate? Did it come naturally to her? Or did she have a deaf friend or family member?

This is why I am so passionate about Deaf Awareness Training.

If Deaf Awareness Training means that we’ll see more people like this young girl, and communication is slightly easier because of that awareness, then myself and my DHH friends all benefit from this.

I often say in the beginning of my DAT sessions that I often consider changing the name from Deaf Awareness to ‘Deaf and Communication’ awareness training.

It’s not only dDeaf/HoH who benefit from this but people with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD), elderly people, and people with disabilities will also be advantaged as well.

Hope you found this handy and keep up your Awesome Auslan!

Disclaimer This information is entirely subjective and based on my personal experience, interpretation and understanding of the subject matter.