Throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, wearing face masks and coverings highlighted problems hearing speech clearly.
One of the reasons for this is that lipreading cues, which help in understanding certain speech sounds, were missing.
Our audiologist Fiona Idriss has been looking at this issue and at the benefits which learning to lipread can bring.
Lipreading is our ability to recognise a person’s lip shapes, use of teeth and tongue, gestures and facial expressions when speaking, said Fiona.
Noticing we were missing something led to a rise in interest in having hearing tests to check for hearing deterioration and interest in lipreading heightened. Transparent plastic windows were incorporated in some face mask designs specifically for this reason.
Loss of speech clarity, even when using hearing aids, can affect confidence in social situations, leading to feeling isolated, avoiding conversations with people who have soft voices, or shying away from environments with high background noise.
Other patients, who have a severe progressive or profound hearing loss, may find that they are on waiting lists for cochlear implant assessment and seek lipreading classes to give them additional skills.
Some individuals who have normal hearing thresholds experience auditory processing disorders and find they struggle to hear in even low-level background noise so lipreading is a great skill to hone.
Hearbase has been exploring the role of other professionals working in Kent who provide additional services for our patients that, when integrated with expertly fitted hearing aids, give our patients the best possible outcome for speech perception.
Judi Pettman, a former teacher of deaf children, is a qualified tutor of lipreading to adults:
“I am very keen to promote lipreading as part of an holistic approach to managing hearing loss,” said Judi. “So many people in my group classes tell me that they have support from others in their position, feel less isolated and have much more confidence to go out and meet people and acknowledge to others that they have a hearing problem.”
Judi works for various organisations and teaches lipreading classes on Zoom for our local HI Kent hearing charity and ‘in person’ lipreading classes for Canterbury Age UK. Her contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org
The Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults can offer information on other classes across Kent by emailing: email@example.com
However, not everyone is able to commit to classes and there are some great online resources, including Lipreading Practice UK. Find out more here
Said Fiona: “We do hope that you are able to access a course that suits your needs, and we are sure you will find great benefit from the lipreading teachers and resources available.”
There is also a free lipreading course run by Dover Adult Education in the Discovery Centre in Market Square, Dover, CT16 1PH. More details may be found here