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Deaf Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

Part of the Signing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

As you become more confident in your ability to communicate through American Sign Language (ASL) and begin to meet Deaf acquaintances and form friendships, keep some simple etiquette do’s and don’ts in mind.

Do’s

  • To get a Deaf person’s attention, tap him or her on the shoulder or flick the light switch.

  • Let a Deaf person know that you can hear and that you’re learning Sign.

  • If you’re at a Deaf social function, allow the Deaf friend you came with to introduce you to others.

  • Introduce yourself using your first and last name.

  • Converse about sports, the weather, politics, pop culture, or whatever else you’d discuss with your hearing friends.

Don’ts

  • Don’t barge into a Deaf person’s house because you think they can’t hear the doorbell.

  • Avoid ordering for a Deaf person in a restaurant, unless he or she asks you to do so.

  • Never try to correct a Deaf person’s signing or lecture them that they don’t sign the way your instructor does.

  • Don’t initiate a conversation about a Deaf person’s hearing loss. Asking such questions implies that you think of the person as broken or inferior.

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