What Action to take - How Can You Help?
When in conversation make sure ...
that you try to find a quiet place to have your conversation. This will help both of you.
you get the lipreader's attention first – call their name or tap them on the shoulder. If possible give the context that you are speaking about. This will be really helpful. You could check throughout the conversation that the lipreader is following the change in topics as you go along. Following social conversations is difficult as the topics change constantly. Knowing the context is really important to enable easier lipreading.
your lipreader is sitting in the best place for him/her.
make sure there is good light - NB remember not to sit with your back to the window as your face will then be in darkness. Ask if s/he can see well enough. You can't lipread in the dark.
your lipreader can see your face clearly and that your mouth can be clearly seen.
you speak clearly and at a slightly slower rate. Don't over exaggerate the sounds or speak too slowly – this can lead to the listener/lip reader making mistakes and losing the natural rhythm of speech. Rhythm can help lipreaders to recognise what is being said.
that you speak in slightly louder voice than usual but NOT too loud and NOT too soft. As was said before clarity is what is needed not too much volume.
you remember that body language is useful too – facial expressions, gestures and your general appearance BUT try to keep reasonably still. It is very distracting if the speaker keeps moving about and sometimes the face becomes obscured. You can't lipread if you can't see the person's mouth.
you have pen a paper so that if all else fails you can write down what is being said.
and you could learn finger spelling - it is very useful to use finger spelling for names or to give the first letter/sound of words
the use of a microphone or better still a loop system can be very useful to some hearing aid wearers.
when speaking to a hard of hearing person speak slowly and clearly and use the phonic alphabet to clarify sounds/letters. Also check dates and times have been heard correctly - use zero if necessary. If you are responsible for call centres or other similar service could you include an option to allow a hard of hearing person to press 1 to go to different set of options which could be 2 for those with high frequency loss, who would then be answered by a deep voiced person; 3 for those with a low frequency loss who would go straight to a person with a high pitched voice. This would necessitate designated people to answer these calls BUT 1 in 5 has a hearing loss in the UK and this could make telephone calls a lot less stressful for many people.
When travelling remember ...
that any kind of tannoy information is not usually heard by the hard of hearing. Many travel operators now use visual displays as well as the tannoy system.
that hard of hearing people may not be aware of traffic behind them – especially bicycles. This is especially of importance in quiet roads where there is not usually much traffic
that lorries reversing can be a danger because the hard of hearing person cannot hear the reversing alarms. HSE recommends for reversing at work - where an audible alarm might not stand out from the background noise, flashing warning lights can be used. Perhaps this could be extended to the roads too.
For more information on deaf awareness and deaf awareness training
Action On Hearing Loss
Hearing Link UK Charity - hearinglink.org
The National Association of Deafened People