Lockdowns have taught us many things, one of which is that we need our eyes as well as our
ears to understand what is being said - and having a conversation through a mask can be
difficult because we cannot lipread.
Hopefully we will soon be able to dispense with masks and see full faces again, so, now is a good time to learn to lipread. Learning this skill can make communication so much easier if your hearing is impaired, and the good news is that lip reading courses, which are usually held face-to-face in Loughborough, are being held on Zoom, so you can learn to lipread in your own home.
Courses are run by the Leslie Edwards Trust, a Loughborough-based charity for the promotion of lip reading, for those suffering from hearing loss.
An enthusiastic advocate of lipreading is former Barrow resident Angela Yates, who did a course herself, was so impressed with it, and the work of the Trust, that she offered her services to the committee to help with publicity.
“I wear hearing aids which help a lot, but there are times when you also need to lipread,” says Angela. “Being in a noisy environment, having distracting background noise, even something as small as people walking on wooden floors, can make it difficult to hear. I found the lipreading course very useful.”
Lipreading is a technique to aid speech understanding by watching the movement of lips, face and tongue when the sound is not sufficiently loud and clear. Understanding context can further clarify what the speaker may be saying and students are taught this too. Apart from the obvious benefits such as learning and practising vital lipreading skills, the classes are informative, and provide the opportunity to share experiences and useful tips. Angela said she enjoyed meeting people who had similar problems with hearing.
It is important to manage hearing loss because it can lead to communication problems in a hearing world. People with hearing loss can become isolated within families, socially and at work, which can lead to low self-esteem, depression and other health problems.
Frequently, people avoid and withdraw from social situations and this increases a person’s feeling of being cut off from everyday life. Technology has brought us useful aids, like subtitles on TV - but it can be frustrating when the words lag behind the picture or don’t match the context, and this is when lip reading comes into its own. Another aid is sign language, which enables deaf people to communicate with each other. However, most hearing-impaired people live in the hearing community and need to be able to communicate with hearing people.
Lipreading trains your eyes to help your ears by watching the movements of the mouth teeth and tongue, and by reading the expressions of the face.
Lip reading classes can be joined using anything from a smartphone, to a tablet, laptop or computer. There is usually an introductory class which will help you if you’ve never used Zoom before. Classes start on 23 April and will be held once a week for 10 weeks. The cost is £20 for the 10-week term. For more information or to join a class, contact Jane Futcher on www.lets-lipread. org.uk · There is also a Lets Lipread Facebook group.