Judy Perry: How I made three lipreading mistakes in one night (and why)

Posted on January 7, 2015

Every now and then I make an effort to socialise, and it is a big effort.

I used to look forward to meeting new people but, like many who have gradually lost their hearing, this has become more and more of a challenge.

I’d get to a party and within an hour think to myself “what am I doing here?” The constant noise and the effort of trying to lipread is just exhausting.

Last Saturday I’d helped organise a charity dinner dance, so it wasn’t really something I could refuse to attend. Here’s how my evening went:

1. We had pre-dinner drinks in the bar (modern decor, all glass and marble, no soft furnishings to absorb sound):   I introduced myself to two ladies, they were talking about their dogs.

Their husbands were also present and talking about golf (I’d met one of them previously at a charity golf day which gave me a hint).

Then one of the ladies said to me, a bit under her breath, “I hate dogs”. I thought this was strange as she had one herself, so thought what else it could be. Of course, it was “I hate GOLF”.

2. round two. At dinner, round table of 10, room of around 200 people, the band was playing so conversation was restricted to those immediately left and right.

There was a gentleman on left, we were talking about the weather (quite safe there, lots of knowing nodding), then Christmas.

He said he was going to a Christmas party in Cologne.   Thinking this was a long way to go for a party “did you say you were going to Cologne for a party?” “No, we’re going to the Christmas market”. Duh!

3. There was a young lady seated to my left, petite and pretty. Her boyfriend was away from the table for a while so I attempted to start a conversation.

“Sorry I missed your name earlier”. “It’s Anna.” “Did you say Anna?” “No, Hannah”. Ah OK, got that now.

“What do you do, Hannah?” “I’m a physiotherapist.”  “Oh that’s interesting, do you work at a hospital?” “No, I work for myself”. (Oh that’s possible I suppose).

“That can be quite hard physically can’t it, you need to be fit to give the treatments” “Well sometimes the massages are quite hard”. (By the look on her face, doubt is creeping in…..) “Just a minute, did you say you’re a physiotherapist?”   “No, I’m a beauty therapist”.

Aaahhhhh………let me out of here…………

As a lipreading teacher I can explain the confusions above:

(a) Dog and Golf look very similar on the lips; d and g are not very visible lipshapes and so it’s the vowel shape ‘o’ which one sees, and I put it with the context of the conversation (or so I thought!)

(b) Party and Market also look very similar; p, b, and m are in the same consonant confusion group in the lipreaders alphabet; the ‘ah’ vowel shape is the same in both words; and t and k are not very visible lipshapes. Asking a ‘closed’ question (“did you say…?”) is a good checking strategy.

(c) This was down to me lipreading ‘therapist’ and thinking what could go before it – I’ve come into contact with a number of physiotherapists so wrongly assumed that was it. As far as I know have never met a beauty therapist before! Again, the closed question clarified it.

It will probably be another year before I attend such a function again!

P1030594 (2)Judy Perry has worn two hearing aids for almost 20 years, but probably should have had them 10 years earlier. After working in travel, she worked in the not-for-profit sector managing a local charity.  Her hearing loss was causing problems especially at meetings and using the phone so she decided to retrain as a lipreading teacher. She now runs two private classes in Buckinghamshire, in Gerrards Cross and Wendover. To find out more, email classes@lipreading.org.uk.

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