A Guide to Useful Signs for the Holiday Season
No matter how you say it, or what you say, the holiday season is a time where we tend to be at our merriest. There’s something magical about this time of year. It might be the chill in the air. It could be the snow crunching beneath our feet. Not every person or culture celebrates the same thing, but it’s the general celebration and joy that unites us all around this special time.
For someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, this time of year can present unique challenges, whether it’s communicating in large-group settings with a greater amount of cross-talk or varying levels of familiarity with signing among family members and loved ones.
Common Holiday Signs
Whether it’s to a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a passerby, here are some quick, common holiday greetings that will make anyone in any situation that much more jolly.
When someone wishes to engage in a lengthy conversation, that’s where understanding one another can be a challenge. But there are simple yet effective ways to overcome these conversational barriers.
Holiday Hearing Hurdles
Social gatherings, while wonderful, can be very overstimulating. They bring family and friends together, but, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, they also bring crowding, multiple overlapping conversations, and high levels of noise. Here are some ways to filter out that noise:
- Communicate openly. Have conversations about potential hearing barriers, whether you or a loved one is deaf of hard of hearing. Talk about how to best interact with each other to build awareness of the situation and to be most accommodating.
- Find a less-noisy area. Sometimes it’s just easier to find a place where there isn’t as much activity. This helps create focus and less strain for listening, signing or lip-reading.
- Choose a good place to sit. If you or a loved one read lips to communicate, sit somewhere that’s well-lit so this form of communication is more productive. Mutually decide on a spot to carry a one-on-one conversation with minimal cross-talk and the best lighting.
While there are ways for those who are deaf or hard of hearing to be proactive in making sure the holidays can remain a joyous time, responsibility falls equally on friends and family members.
Hear to Help
As the host of the annual holiday party, you want to be accommodating and make sure every guest is having a good time. If you know an attendee is deaf or hard of hearing, create several ways to be more inclusive.
- Create accessibility. It’s easy to go all out with holiday decorating (lights, music, etc.) but toning it down will make communicating much easier. Make sure there’s enough room and everything is well-lit so they can see those around them and read lips if they prefer.
- Be proactive. If you’re going to have a one-on-one conversation, you should be ready to step away to someplace quiet. Maybe it’s outside or into another, less-populated room.
- Don’t ignore. During the holidays there can be a lot to juggle, but that doesn’t mean people should get lost in the shuffle. If someone is sharing a story or a joke around the dinner table, retell it or write it down. Don’t say “it’s nothing,” or “I’ll tell you later.”
Perhaps you can’t make it to the holiday gathering but still, wish to send a merry holiday greeting. Relay SD provides several services to help you stay in touch. Our Relay Conference Captioning (RCC) makes calls accessible for everyone. RCC provides real-time captions to spoken dialogue. It ensures that nothing spoken gets missed and that no one feels left out. Plus, it’s available at no cost for South Dakota residents!
From greetings to gatherings, there are several ways to keep connected to the ones you love this holiday season. Remember to be accommodating and informative so that everyone can have a merry time. Happy holidays from Relay South Dakota!