Deaf Awareness Week 2020

Deaf Awareness Week, 4-10 May 2020, Acquired Deafness

Deaf Awareness Week, 4-10 May 2020, Acquired Deafness

Deaf Awareness Week takes place from Monday 4th – Sunday 10th May 2020 and the theme this year is ‘acquired deafness’.

Deaf Awareness Week aims to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of hearing loss and deafness across the UK. According to Action on Hearing Loss there are 12 million people affected in the UK. Every day, you’re likely to interact with someone who is deaf or has some level of hearing loss. There is diversity within deafness, and the needs and perspectives of deaf people and those with hearing loss vary.

This news page includes information about;

As well as the guidance provided here, the Equality & Inclusion Unit (EPU) is developing new and comprehensive Deaf Awareness guidance. We will be consulting with relevant parties before publishing the guidance online soon.

Are you deaf aware?

The impact of social distancing measures has made it ever more relevant to practice deaf awareness.

  • If you are a member of staff or manager, talk to colleagues about their hearing impairment and the adjustments they may need in the workplace. With the impact of COVID-19 affecting many people’s working arrangements, it will be particularly important to review disabled employee’s support plans to ensure adjustments are still relevant to their new arrangements.
  • If you are involved in student learning or teaching, ensure that you are aware of the individual adjustments that your students with hearing impairments may require and how these might be affected by online teaching practices.
  • If you are a student or employee at the University of Leeds with a hearing impairment, speak to your manager, colleagues, peers, personal tutor and lecturers about what they can do to support you to work and learn more effectively.

Communication tips for online meetings

Making simple changes to the way you communicate with others can help to avoid unknowingly excluding someone or making their daily life more difficult. These communication tips should support you to improve the effectiveness of your online meetings for attendees with hearing loss. As well as everyone’s communication needs being different, everyone’s working from home arrangements are different too. The strength of the internet connection or lack of equipment (e.g. microphone headset) may impact on the quality of online meetings, so you may need to experiment to find the way that works best for you and your colleagues.

Agenda and actions

  • Use an agenda and keep to the order to provide context for what is being said. Providing a list of attendees will also help everyone know who is present.
  • At the start of the meeting confirm that actions will be verbally summarised at the end and will be circulated in a written format after the meeting. This will help those with hearing issues focus on the discussion instead of trying to listen and make notes at the same time.
  • Microsoft Teams has a recording feature, allowing people to review information that wasn’t heard the first time.

 Video meetings

  • Video enables people to identify who is speaking and helps with lip-reading.
  • A good internet connection is important for good video quality. Your connection may be improved if you plug your computer into your router rather than use Wi-Fi connection.
  • If the picture quality is poor when you use your camera, try adjusting the camera settings e.g. turn off auto-focus.
  • If the sound and picture are not in sync (e.g. blurring, jittering, pixilation) then video communication is unlikely to be helpful for people who use lip-reading and it may be preferable to use audio only.
  • Let the group know if your camera is not working, or if the picture quality will likely be poor.
  • Try to sit in a well-lit area but not with a source of light behind you, as this can put your face into shadow and make it harder for someone to lip-read.
  • Make sure your face is close to the camera.
  • Look at the camera and try not to cover your mouth while speaking.
  • In video meetings, it can be helpful to raise your hand when you want to talk.
  • If you mute your microphone when you are not speaking, this will reduce background noise.
  • Where possible, only one person should speak at a time.
  • When it is your turn to speak, speak clearly and don’t rush. Remember to repeat any key points at the end of longer or more complicated sections. Pause regularly, and provide the opportunity for others to ask questions.

Audio meetings

  • For good quality sound, it can be helpful to use headsets with microphones. If a headset isn’t available, try to speak nearer to the microphone.
  • During audio only meetings, make sure you introduce yourself by saying your name before speaking.
  • If you mute your microphone when you are not speaking, this will reduce background noise.
  • Where possible, only one person should speak at a time.
  • When it is your turn to speak, speak clearly and don’t rush. Remember to repeat any key points at the end of longer or more complicated sections. Pause regularly, and provide the opportunity for others to ask questions.

 Chat functions

  • Make use of chat functions, if available. This can help attendees to take turns to speak without the need to interrupt one another, particularly in audio meetings.
  • Use the chat function to ask questions and clarify details, for example when numbers or complex jargon are being discussed.
  • It can be helpful for at least one attendee to monitor the chat function for incoming messages.

Captions

  • Automatic captions are not 100% accurate but they can still be very useful.
  • Microsoft Teams has a live captioning tool.
  • Speech recognition relies on good quality sound and accuracy can be improved if a headset is used. If a headset isn’t available, try to speak nearer to the microphone.
  • Where possible, have only one person speaking at a time, as this helps to increase the accuracy of captions.

Large online meetings (8+ attendees)

  • A minimum of 3 designated roles are recommended for a meeting of this size; the chair (leads the meeting using the agenda), co-chair (manages turn taking and monitors the chat function) and note taker (captures minutes and actions).
  • Best practice for large online meetings is to have the video off when you are not speaking. Only the chair, co-chair and interpreters (if applicable) should have their video turned on at all times.
  • Every participant should take care to turn on video when presenting an agenda item and to turn off video when their item is completed.

Things to consider for meetings with interpreters present

  • It can be helpful to hold these meetings with as few attendees as possible.
  • Good video quality is important. If your video quality is poor, try to plug your computer into your router rather than use Wi-Fi connection, adjust your camera settings, or use a separate webcam.
  • Management of turn-taking when people are speaking is very important to help the interpreter determine what each person is saying.
  • It is recommended that the ‘blur my background’ function is switched off, as this can make it difficult to see signing.

Advice for deaf and hard of hearing staff

  • Make sure you discuss with your line manager any difficulties you may be having with participating fully in meetings.
  • An Access to Work agreement could be used to fund BSL interpretation or remote captioning for online meetings.
  • If you are comfortable doing so, be transparent with your colleagues. If you explain that you can communicate well if you can lip-read but may still need to ask for repetition or clarification, this will help them to communicate most effectively with you.

Support Services and Resources

Mental Health Support – Deaf people are twice as likely to experience mental health issues compared with hearing people. If you’re dealing with a mental health issue, the University offers a range of services for staff and students;

For questions about the information on this page, please contact: equality@leeds.ac.uk