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what is it like to talk to a deaf person as a speech-language pathologist?

I was learning how to do sign language and i was just wondering how like the deaf and blind person understand it
#supportthedeafandblind #speech-therapy #speech #asl #slp #speech-pathology

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Kim’s Answer


I have not spoken directly with a deaf person, but have used an ASL interpreter to do so. At first, it was awkward, but, as the conversation progressed, it became just that - a conversation. I forgot I was using an interpreter! I was helping the client to find a job, and she was very enthusiastic, which showed through her body language and facial expressions. I spoke directly to her, saying exactly what I would had she not been deaf, and the interpreter translated. (that is, I didn't say, "Would you please tell her . . . ", I just spoke directly to her.) She was also able to read lips, which helped.

I have also worked with deaf clients who were not enthusiastic about the prospects of finding a job. In that case, the conversation itself didn't leave me feeling too good, but, this was not because she was deaf. It was because she didn't want a job. That is to say, the deafness didn't make a difference.

Another client I had was able to hear, but had trouble speaking. In that case, we opened a blank document page on the computer, and typed our entire conversation. That also went extremely well.

So, overall , what I want to say is this: people are people. There are good and bad experiences, even with people who have no disabilities. The disabilities don't define who they are, although, they do sometimes make us feel awkward at first when interacting with them. Eventually, that awkwardness will disappear.

There is a whole body of literature on "people first" language that addresses how we interact with people who have disabilities. You may find something here useful: https://www.disabilityisnatural.com/attitudes-language.html

Best of luck to you!

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Holly’s Answer


You are really asking about two types of communication. If the person is deaf and blind then you will need to sign into their hands (watch the movies about Helen Keller). Also, I am assuming that the person you are talking about has no usable hearing or vision. Often, deaf individuals will choose to pursue a cochlear implant and this can help in that sense.

I am not sure exactly what you mean. If you are talking about a young child who has not yet developed speech or language skills and is learning to sign, this can be very challenging (but very rewarding when you have success). Think about how children learn new words, they are said with the item or situation present many times until they grasp the concept. This is the same for people/children who are deaf and blind. They need to have the item and the sign presented together many times until they understand that the sign represents the object or concept. So, yes, it is more challenging.

If the person is either blind or deaf, but not both, the challenges are reduced because the child now has additional input to help make sense of the world.

As adults, these individuals often have adapted to communicating with people unfamiliar with their challenges. They will often tell their communication partner HOW to communicate with them.

I hope this has helped. Please feel free to follow up with any additional questions.
Holly Segel
Speech-Language Pathologist

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Darin’s Answer

Hello Marie, I myself don't know ASL but I have worked with people who are deaf. I converse with them by pen and paper. They also know how to read lips but not well so I usually stick with pen and paper and keep the sentences short and sweet to understand