The 12 Signs of Christmas

British Sign Language (BSL) Christmas Phrases by RNID

Leading deaf and hearing loss charity RNID has created a video ‘The 12 Signs of Christmas’ with 12 festive phrases for people to learn in BSL

They also have some top tips to being more deaf aware.

1.         Ask how you can help 

Everyone is different, so ask the person who is deaf or has hearing loss what you can do to make communication easier. For example, they might need to see your face when you’re talking, or they might need the subtitles on if you’re watching a film together. 

2.        Make lipreading easier 

Make sure the room you are in for your Christmas get together is well lit – candles and fairy lights alone won’t be much use to people who lipread. Don’t cover your mouth when you’re speaking, and face the person who is lipreading. Try not to speak with your mouth full as this will make it harder for them to lipread you. 

3.        Take it in turns to speak 

Try not to speak over each other – it’s impossible to lipread more than one person at a time and your family member will quickly get lost in the conversation. Speak clearly and not too slowly, and don’t shout as this can be uncomfortable for hearing aid users. If someone doesn’t understand what you said, try repeating or explaining it a different way. 

4.       Keep background noise low 

If you’re playing festive music or if there is background noise, keep the volume low. This will make it much easier for people to hear, and it will help anyone who lipreads to focus on what you are saying.   

5.        Help people follow the conversation 

If the topic of conversation suddenly changes, make sure everyone is aware – maybe ask them a question to check. 

And crucially, if someone who is deaf or has hearing loss asks you to repeat something, never say “it doesn’t matter”. If you do that, you’re taking away their opportunity to be part of the conversation, and you might make them feel like they don’t matter.  

Harriet Oppenheimer, Deputy Chief Executive at RNID, said: 

“For lots of us, Christmas is a time of big family get togethers, noisy work Christmas dos and catching up with old friends. But we also know that Christmas can be an isolating time if you are deaf or have hearing loss or tinnitus, and our supporters have told us that they can feel left out of the festive fun going on around them.  

“Being deaf aware at Christmas doesn’t have to mean making big changes; there are small things you can do which will make the day a lot more enjoyable for your deaf family member or friend and allow them to be part of the celebrations.”  

The 12 Signs of Christmas  

From learning how to sign ‘Happy Christmas’ to asking someone to ‘meet me under the mistletoe’ or ‘pass the chocolates’, the charity’s 12 signs of Christmas will help to get everyone in the family signing and having fun together, whilst taking an important step to be more deaf aware. 

For more information on how you can be deaf aware at Christmas, visit RNID’s website.

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