Welcoming Deaf patrons to your venue

Before the BSL performance, be sure to go through these tips for welcoming Deaf patrons to your venue with your front of house and box office staff.

  • Don’t assume that all Deaf people are the same. They may have different levels of sign language or speaking ability.
  • Face the customer 3-6 feet away and make sure your face is well lit.
  • Make sure the customer is looking at you before you start speaking.
  • Don’t shout! Speak clearly, and remember, phrases are easier to lipread than single words.
  • Rephrase what you’re saying if the customer doesn’t understand you first time. For example “Have you got your ticket?” could become “Do you need to pick up your ticket for the show?”
  • Use fingerspelling to make certain words clear.
  • Write things down if you need to clarify something.
  • Try not to cover your mouth, with your hands, for example, as this can make lipreading difficult.
  • Use gestures to help you communicate more clearly.
  • Let the customer know if you don’t understand what they have said.
  • Some Deaf people have a Hearing Dog for the Deaf. Are they allowed into your auditorium? If not, who would look after it and where?
  • All front of house staff should be aware of where the BSL audience will be sitting.
  • Make sure that staff know where the loop headsets are kept, and that they are ready to hand them out to any Deaf customers who request to use them and ask your technical team to check that that the loop/infrared system is switched on and working well before the audience arrives at the theatre.

For more in-depth awareness training for Deaf patrons, please use this training resource:

This resource was produced for captioned and audio described performances but is also helpful for welcoming Deaf patrons to BSL interpreted performances.

Now go to: Final preparations for your BSL performance