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EYE CONTACT: One of the most annoying and difficult hindrances to visual communication is the habit that hearing people have developed when conversing verbally: wandering eyes. It is unnecessary for hearing people to maintain continual eye gaze, as they are able to use their ears to continue the conversation uninterrupted, while glancing toward unexpected or curious noises in the environment. Our eyes can attend to children needing correction or attention, objects falling on the floor, and pouring our drinks, while the conversation continues, uninterrupted. For a non-hearing person, these distractions are not only annoying and distracting, but more importantly, are considered as a blatant disregard for them as a person of worth. Interrupted eye-gaze sends a message loud and clear: “this distraction is more important than you are.” It is a social blunder not easily forgiven. Even though the SIGNER does not maintain strict eye contact, as we learned in the Language portion of this lesson, the LISTENER must. Remember, all else waits while you are “listening.”
GETTING ATTENTION: There are several acceptable and unacceptable ways of getting the attention of a nonhearing person in order to communicate. Unacceptable ways: waving your hand close to their face, yelling, talking in a loud voice, or throwing something at them. Acceptable ways: simply place a hand gently on their shoulder, or arm, but not on the head. If you are not close enough to reach them, walk over to them or ask someone near them to tap them. When wanting the whole room’s attention, flicking the lights or stomping on a wooden floor is appropriate.
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