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24 ASL signs all first responders should know

Check out these video clips for the most important words to know when working with someone who is deaf or hearing-impaired

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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15 percent of U.S. adults report some trouble hearing. As first responders who work and communicate with the public every day, it’s likely you will come across someone who is deaf or hard of hearing during your career.

Below are 24 words and phrases that will help you communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired and will allow you to provide care more easily until an interpreter can be acquired.

1. Yes

2. No

3. Stop

4. Pain

5. EMT or paramedic

6. Firefighter

7. I don’t understand

8. Calm down

9. Are you hurt?


11. Do you need help?

12. What is wrong?

13. Are you safe?

14. Follow me

15. Ambulance

16. Fire

17. Emergency

18. Evacuate

19. Hospital

20. Oxygen

21. Breathe

22. Heart

23. Bleeding

24. Accident

For additional resources, watch this collaborative video created by Spokane, Washington, emergency services and law enforcement on best practices for first responders when working with members of the community who may be deaf or hard of hearing.

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.