Lipreading Practice

Guest Contributor to Hearing Help Essex

Written for Hearing Health Essex

Hearing Help Essex

Guest Contributor – Gloria McGregor

 

Our guest contributor is Gloria McGregor and here she tells you about the development of her website: www.lipreading practice.co.uk

I lost much of my hearing as an adult. I was in my early thirties and a primary school teacher. I loved my job and found so much pleasure seeing the growth and development of the children. I was appointed a headteacher soon after I realised that I had lost some of my hearing. Although I struggled on for many years I eventually took early retirement. I didn't realise how bad my hearing was for many years and always felt that if I tried harder I would be able to hear better BUT it didn't work!

Now I had time to learn how to lipread and I set to with a will. Going to a lipreading class was the best thing I have ever done!! The ability to lipread enabled me to make more sense of what I was hearing. I still got things wrong but I could manage better and this gave me back some of the confidence and self-esteem that I had lost over the years. I again I worked with children who needed learning support.

At this time many lipreading classes were closing due to lack of teachers. I was lucky, my advanced class continued. Now 61 years old I had not thought of teaching again, but chance remark from my new lipreading tutor made me think. After an interview with Essex County Council in 2006 I found myself teaching a lipreading group in Saffron Walden. I taught in Essex and Suffolk until I was 65 and then retired continuing to run my lipreading group in Saffron Walden as a support group. I now have two support groups with 26 members.

I was saddened to see, nationwide, how the number of lipreading classes had diminished. I wanted to help but how? My husband persuaded me to create a website. With fear of the unknown I told my web designers what I wanted to do.

I wrote all the material for the consonant sounds and we filmed the work. There were two cameras so that the side view was exactly the same as the front view. We filmed material for each of the consonant sounds and for number and rhythm. Next the editing both by the film maker and me, the subtitles added. This was essential so that the users could check their lipreading with the subtitles that could be switched off if wanted. This done it was over to the web team who checked and rechecked. The work consists of video clips which feature practice of the lip pattern and formation of each sound group, a beginner's passage and a developing lip reader's passage to practise the sounds, both from the front view and from the side. In addition to this there are also word sheets and exercises plus information about lipreading and useful addresses and resources.

I have been stunned by the progress and popularity of the website and frequently receive emails from abroad from both for individual users and by professionals who are using my work as part of their lipreading programme. I am regularly asked to find lipreading class for people not only in the UK but in the USA.

Through my deafness and my lipreading work I have met some amazing people who have helped me to understand and come to terms with my own hearing loss and also I have had some incredible experiences that I'm sure I wouldn't otherwise have had.

In July 2013 I was thrilled to be admitted to the Worshipful Company of Educators. A trip to China followed where I spoke to new students at Hé University, Shenyang, on the importance of family, education, overcoming adversity & helping others. An incredible experience having the privilege of speaking to 2000 students at the beginning of their further education and because of the illustrious company from all over the world I was meeting. I was given the great honour of the title of "Visiting Professor". Last September I was admitted to the Freedom of the City of London as a Londoner this meant a great deal to me and I have been accepted as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Educators.

I hope that my website will continue to help those who wish to practise lipreading and will give helpful information that will enable anyone to find something useful to them.

I am now looking at how I can improve the website and make it easier to use and my next big focus is going to be deaf awareness for hearing people. Please let me know if you have any ideas that you would like me to include or if you have some anecdotes about your experience of deaf awareness or lack of it.

Use of the website is free and no one has to register or sign in!! My aim is to demonstrate the how useful lipreading is and to encourage people to join a lipreading class and to push for more provision of lipreading classes.

Please contact me with ideas or questions: gloria@lipreadingpractice.co.uk. I shall be pleased to hear from you and will do my best to help.

 

 

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