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6 May 2024 | Comment | Article by Francesca Bamsey

Deaf Awareness Week 2024 | Celebrating love and trust

Deaf Awareness Week (DAW) takes place between 6-12 May and was created by the UK Council on Deafness to raise awareness, increase the visibility of the deaf community and shine a light on the challenges they face.

This year’s theme is ‘Celebrating Love and Trust’. We are encouraged not to just raise awareness of deafness in our community, but to ignite a movement by embracing love and trust by overcoming barriers and uniting hearts in the spirit of understanding and compassion. The goal is to foster a collaborative environment and create an inclusive society grounded in trust and open communication.

In the UK, 12 million adults are deaf, have hearing loss and/or tinnitus and experience difficulties communicating in their day to day lives. An estimated 1.2 million adults in the UK have hearing loss severe enough that they are not able to hear most conversational speech.

By looking at language and how we communicate, we are urged to reflect on how we may communicate without words, but with gestures and simple touch. Deaf Awareness Week embraces those who communicate with British Sign Language (BSL) and non-BSL users that are frequently overlooked and underrepresented, despite the numbers.

It is estimated that there are 25,000 people that use BSL as their main language in the UK. A further estimated 151,000 people can use BSL and of these, 87,000 are deaf. For non-BSL users, communication can be assisted by the use of lip reading, hearing aids, body language or other methods. There are useful deaf awareness tips to help improve communication with a deaf person such as:

  • Use gestures: using simple gestures where possible. If you can point to something, pointing isn’t rude in deaf culture.
  • Maintain eye contact: try not to look away and try to face the person whilst talking with your mouth visible.
  • Be patient: taking the time to speak calmly, repeat things when needed and encouragement will avoid frustration and anger.
  • Reduce background noise: be mindful of the environment and move to a quieter area if possible.
  • Technology: Our smart phones have useful Apps like Make it Big’ to help when typing messages or Google Live Transcribe which converts speech to text
  • Learn British Sign Language

Francesca Bamsey, a specialist military hearing loss Senior Associate solicitor said:

“This year’s theme for Deaf Awareness Week captures the spirit of embracing diversity and inclusivity and understanding the challenges of those experiencing hearing loss. At Hugh James we are passionate about creating a relationship of trust and understanding with our clients, who often feel apprehensive about speaking with a solicitor about their hearing difficulties and how they may have impacted their day to day lives and career.

“Our clients often tell us that they have difficulty understanding conversation in noisy environments and tend to look at people’s faces and mouths to try and understand what is being said. Quite a few of our clients also wear hearing aids to help alleviate their hearing problems in day to day life and find that they do improve their quality of life. We encourage anyone that is experiencing hearing loss to investigate their symptoms, and campaigns, such as Deaf Awareness Week are a great way to encourage people to seek help and support.”

If you are a serving member of the armed forces or ex-military personnel and suffer from an injury or illness as a result of service, such as hearing loss, and have either been medically discharged or you or members of your family have noticed symptoms of hearing loss, you may wish to obtain legal advice in relation to making a civil claim. Get in touch with our specialist military lawyers today for an informal discussion.

Author bio

Francesca Bamsey

Senior Associate

Francesca Bamsey joined Hugh James in February 2013. Francesca works in the Claimant Litigation Division specialising in industrial injury claims such as hearing loss claims.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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