Lesley Weatherson: What Lipspeakers can offer deaf people

Posted on December 22, 2015

With a new cohort of Lipspeakers about to take their first assignments for deaf people I wanted to touch on the growing demand for Lipspeakers despite a continued lack of awareness of our profession.

A client who is recently deafened through illness told me that he approached his university (disability advisory specialist) who asked him what communication provision he would like. Sound reasonable? Not if you have no idea what is available. He knew a BSL interpreter wasn’t appropriate for him as he only had Level 1 BSL. A notetaker? Important but again, not the correct type of support for him to be able to fully participate in lectures.

Through a family friend he learned about the role of the Lipspeaker. Someone professionally trained to be lipreadable who could attend seminars, tutorials as well as any formal social occasions to provide communication support.

With the correct support his confidence increased. He was able to fully participate in university life and now in work.

How do we ensure that specialist disability advisors are aware of the vital role that Lipspeakers can play in Higher Education?

My aim in my final year as Chair of the Association of Lipspeakers will be to explore, educate and inform those who provide an important service both within universities and public services to ensure they have all heard of Lipspeakers.

We have made small steps. Supporting the training of Police Link Officers for Deaf people (PLOD) in Hampshire. By manning stands along with colleagues handing out leaflets and demonstrating Lipspeaking. Advertising and contributing to discussions as well as writing short articles such as this.

I founded the only specialist Lipspeaking company in the UK, Lipspeaker UK (a supporter of this site) to ensure lipreaders could book a qualified and registered Lipspeaker. Less travelling and more Lipspeaking time kept costs down as well as ensuring more deaf people weren’t left without support. A centralising hub if you like.

But there is a great deal more work to be done. If you are interested in becoming a Lipspeaker please contact me for details of courses running next year: Lesley@lipspeaker.co.uk

Lesley has been working with deaf people since the 1990’s. A career that has seen her working as a nurse and midwife, lipspeaker and notetaker and is now a trainee British Sign Language interpreter as well as running her own business providing communication support for deaf people, Lipspeaker UK.

Lesley is the Chair of the Association of Lipspeakers having formally been treasurer and vice-chair. She helped write the National Occupational Standards for lipspeaking as well as the new Signature lipspeaker training course. She is a qualified assessor, sits on the NRCPD board and is a regular contributor to discussions and proposals by deaf led groups and publications.

Lesley was the Signature regional winner for Learner of the Year in 2012 and became the Signature Communication Professional of the Year in 2013.

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