It can be exasperating watching television and relying on subtitles for explanation. When you are hard of hearing, it is occasionally quite funny when words incorrectly captioned construe a totally different interpretation to the one the newswriter intentioned. But, add it to all the other frustrations that the deaf and those suffering from loss of hearing shoulder and you realise how difficult it is for us to make sense of communication.
Sometimes, the subtitles trail so far behind that the task is abandoned and the viewer left with a tantalizing message such as ……… “as a result, Alice Meadows, a nurse from Bromwich will not now be able to get……….” Get what? A job, half a dozen eggs, her pension? Subtitles are useful; other things help too.
We know it is irritating for our hearing friends and family to have to repeat sentences constantly – even if you don’t actually tell us, we can see it written on your face. And technological advancements have improved our lives no end. Audio devices and hearing aids, loop systems, agencies for the hard of hearing that devise aids and awareness to help us hear more clearly, are invaluable. What a long way we have come from the unwieldy, crackling contraptions that our grandparents wore to help increase the volume.
For many of us, using a hearing aid will help. Up-to-date technology now offers us better clarification and sound quality. For some, surgery will offer an improvement in hearing. But there are limitations as well as benefits with most forms of help and learning lipreading skills can be such a help to us.
Lipreading is a technique to aid speech understanding by watching the movement of lips, face and tongue when their accompanying sound is not sufficiently loud or clear to hear. Contextual comprehension can further clarify what the speaker might be saying. It takes time and patience to learn and the expertise of a good tutor to teach the skill.
But we desperately need more tutors to teach lipreading. Not just to us but to our friends and family as well – so we can all communicate with each other more effectively. Facing the listener when we speak, enunciating clearly, checking out whether the deaf person has understood. It all sounds so serious but believe me, there is plenty of humour in the process too, particularly when mistakes are made. One of the lighter features of lipreading classes is sharing some of the embarrassments and funny moments with others in the same position. It makes us feel less silly somehow about what we’ve misunderstood.
Yes, there are many disabilities more severe than deafness – we know that well. Because many of us suffer from other illnesses and disabilities as well as coping with not being able to hear clearly. We know what it is like to receive an unwelcome diagnosis without fully understanding it, from a consultant who unwittingly delivers it in a muffled voice with his or her head averted.
So come on – a plea to you good folk out there. There must be plenty of people with the potential to make good lipreading tutors. People who care enough to help us communicate more productively with them and with each other. We need you – particularly we need you in the Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire area.
The Leslie Edwards Trust is offering the opportunity to train as a lipreading tutor by offering a professional qualification which involves a one-year distance learning course. The cost of course fees, travel and books will be covered by the Trust.
Tutors are freelance but paid the ATLA (Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults) recommended hourly rate, plus travel and expenses.
Being a tutor is a part-time occupation and generally involves teaching on average three two-hourly sessions weekly, based on a 30 week year.
If you would like to find out about this challenge, please contact email@example.com
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