Hearing Impairment

 When chatting…

  • make sure you are in front of or fairly close to (approx 1 – 2 metres) and on the same level as the person
  • check that background noise is kept to a minimum
  • do not shout
  • speak clearly, maintaining a normal rhythm of speech
  • remember that sentences and phrases are easier to understand than isolated words
  • if a word/phrase is not understood, use different words with the same meaning – rephrase
  • allow more time for the person to absorb what you have said
  • keep head still and stop talking if you turn away
  • keep hands, pens, cigarette, etc away from your face while speaking
  • avoid exaggerated facial movement.
  • make sure the person is looking at you – attract attention if necessary
  • if the topic is changed make sure the person knows
  • check the person understands you
  • write thing down if necessary
  • remember lip reading can be very tiring


Visual Impairment

Contrary to popular belief, most blind or partially sighted people can see something. Just how much someone can see will vary from person to person. A minority of blind people can distinguish light but nothing else. Some people have no central vision, others have no side vision. Some people see everything as a vague blur; others see a patchwork of blanks and defined areas.

There are a number of different eye conditions that can cause sight problems. Some people are born with no vision or significantly reduced vision. Others lose vision due to accidents or the natural ageing process. The actual effects of the vision impairment varies widely, depending on the condition, its progress and the person’s coping skills. Therefore it is important to speak to the person about the effect of their visual impairment and how they cope, so that their individual needs can be met.

  • greet a person by saying your name in case the person does not recognise your voice
  • talk directly to the person rather than through a third party
  • there’s no need to shout
  • don’t be afraid to use terms like “see you later” or “do you see what i mean!” People with visual impairments use them too
  • always ask the person if they would like your assistance and if so, allow them to take your arm
  • when assisting, it is helpful to give a commentary on what is around the person
  • if you are giving directions, don’t point. Give clear verbal directions. It is also helpful to inform the person of steps along the route and whether there is a step up or step down
  • Similarly, don’t assume that a person using a white cane or guide dog is totally blind. Many partially sighted people use these
  • always let a person know when you are entering or leaving a room, so that they are not left talking to themselves
  • don’t leave a blind person standing in space – let them have contact with some object such as a chair, desk or wall
  • bright colours help when marking out areas