Have you ever wondered who lipreading classes are aimed at?
Have you ever wondered what goes on in a lipreading class?
Have you ever wondered if a lipreading class might be useful to you?
I hope to answer these questions and help you decide if you would like to join a class.
My name is Molly Berry, and I am a lipreading tutor, and vice chair of ATLA (the Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults).
I am profoundly deaf, but have a brilliant cochlear implant, with which I manage very well. I don’t sign, as I was not born deaf.
I started to lose my hearing in my thirties, and I wish someone had told me about lipreading classes!
Lipreading, and managing hearing loss classes, to give them their full title, are aimed at anyone, of any age, who struggles to hear in noise, whether they wear a hearing aid or not.
After getting a hearing test, joining a lipreading class is the best way to help yourself get the most from your hearing, and take charge of your own hearing loss.
So what goes on in a class? Lipreading is a complex skill, it takes time and practice to learn.
The aim is to get the gist of what is said, so that we can join in the conversation.
We are teaching the eyes to help the ears get the best from what they hear. Classes are small, friendly and fun.
We usually start by learning the lipreaders alphabet, and confusion groups, letters that look similar on the lips, these are the reason for some of the hilarious errors we sometimes make.
In a class we can laugh together, we all have hearing loss, and we can use these errors to learn from.
You will learn checking strategies, which are very important, tea on Saturday will look similar to dinner on Sunday, and you need to be sure which you have been invited to!
Classes will vary, but usually there will be short exercises and small group work, and a longer piece, to stretch concentration times and memory.
Lipreading isn’t the only thing you will learn in a class. You will learn about equipment and organisations to help you in your everyday life, about how hearing works and the things that can go wrong.
We look at audiograms and what they show, and learn about hearing aids and their care, BAHAs and CIs.
There is much more that you will learn in a class, but the first pleasure on joining is finding others with similar problems.
When I first started losing my hearing, I felt very alone and misunderstood. There was no sympathy, and I was often sure that people were laughing at me, it is so easy to lose confidence and become isolated, we tend to read a lot, not that that is a bad thing, but losing social contact is.
Research shows that it is best to join a class soon after being diagnosed with hearing loss, but any time is better than never, so go for it, do the best you can for yourself.
For information on classes nationwide taught by qualified tutors, go to the ATLA (The Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults) website at: www.atlalipreading.org.uk
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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