Lipreading Practice

Blog written for Action on Hearing Loss website

Action on Hearing Loss

August 2013

This was written for the Action on Hearing loss website.

My background was in primary education until I retired in 1995. I also studied with the Open University focussing on teaching those with learning difficulties.

I loved teaching! It was so exciting to see children (and adults) developand become excited about their achievements. It was wonderful too, to see children who had behavioural problemschange and become more integrated into school life. How lucky Iwas to have a job that I really enjoyed.

Catastrophe! By the mid 1980’s I realised that I wasn’t hearing very well. I could no longer hear what the children were saying or the staff for that matter and it wasn’t because they were mumbling! Hearing aids in both earsdidn’thelp much and there were few assistive devices. As head teacher I had responsibility for the success of the school and felt that my hearing loss prevented me from doing this as I would wish. Sadly I took early retirement and thought that my teaching days were over.

The impact on my life was devastating. I felt I had lost my identity.I became easily upset and hated going out because with any background noise I could not hear and I felt I was being left out. It was difficult to socialise with my husband’s staff and clients. Entertaining at home was better because I could be busy! Life was very stressful and my confidence was at rock bottom. I am sure that very many other hearing impaired people feel the same way.

I knew that I had to do something and searched for some kind of self-confidence course but could find nothing suitable.

What to do? I began teaching again. I used my educational expertise to work one to one withchildren and adults including a young deaf boy. Because I had more time I went to lip reading classes. They were a lifeline. I was invited to join an advanced group and made some very good friends.

I taught lip reading in Essex and Suffolk until 2009 when I retired again but I still run two local lip reading support groups. I have first-hand experience of how lip reading has improved my confidence and I have seen how it can help others. The sense of isolation so often felt can be helped through the support and friendship of the group members and by developing lip reading skills. It is a joy to see the group’s interaction.

Because of my own experiences I wanted to help others. I decided that making a lip reading CD could be of benefit to people. Those unable to go to a class, for whatever reason, could practise lip reading using the CD.I worked very hard but it was not to be. The CD could not be read on all computers.

My husband knew how much this meant to me so we bought in professional web designers and a film team. The result is (www.)

How is it made? First I research and write all the materiale.g. sounds; rhythm; plus information and tips on lip reading and useful resources with links to other websites.

Then, although I hate having my photo taken, I am filmed in a studio which varies from being freezing to unbearably hot but the end results are good and it can be fun! After checking each video clip (received) I put in the subtitles to synchronise with my speech. (I especially wanted to use removable subtitles so that the work could be self-correcting). Finally the timed subtitling is sent to the web team who tidy it up and put the finished work onto the website designed by them. Everything is checked again. It is a time consuming process but I hope the website is going to be very helpful to all who use it.

My aims were to demonstrate the value of lip reading in everyday life and toprovide an opportunity to practise in a safe environment. Most importantly the site had to be free to use!

I hope people will then attend lip reading classes to increase their skills and enjoy the support and friendship of colleagues, practising in a group adds to individual confidence.

The response to the website has been amazing!

Comments include:

how helpful the tips are;

how it has helped to focus on how to lip read;

how people are using it in conjunction with their lip reading class;

how they miss their class and are seeking to go back to one.

How young deaf people are using it and find the use of subtitles so helpful;

How lip reading tutors are using some of the material.

How people no longer feel so isolated.

I would like to thank Action on Hearing Loss and the National Association for Deafened People in particular plus all the countless other friends and associates who have promoted my website. All this is fantastic and I hope it continues to be useful in the long term.

The next phase of material for the site has been filmed and includes some memory games. I will available on the website as soon as possible.

Finally I have always hoped that a Government would recognise lip reading as a life skill for deafened people and provide subsidised courses uniformly across the country. Those of us with a hearing loss could thus be empowered, have even more independence and be better able to contribute to society.

In the meantime I shall continue, as long as I can, to promote lip reading!



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