Lipreading Awareness Week 2019
Runs from the 9th to the 15th of September 2019
A brief history of Lipreading
Did you know that the first lip-reading course was developed by the City Lit in London, back in 1919. This was as a direct result of returning World War 1 veterans. Many men had been exposed to loud noise on the battlefield and had subsequently acquired a hearing loss. However upon their return to the UK, a great number of men who had Noise Induced hearing loss were seen as malingerers who were exaggerating! We now know that the shells and artillery noise that soldiers were exposed to regularly created a noise of 140 decibels or higher. But ear protection was not given great consideration. In fact ear plugs were considered a barrier to soldiers being able to hear orders or warnings from their colleagues or superior officers!
The second world war also produced a great number of deafened veterans. Subsequently the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, the charity now known as Action on Hearing Loss, developed their teaching programme. Classes on how to lip-read were in demand as was the need to train up the necessary teachers!
Lipreading teachers in 2019
Currently there are two places in England where you can train to become a teacher of lip-reading. The City Lit in London and in Manchester through the Centre for Deaf Studies. Training sometimes runs in Scotland and Wales, depending upon demand. When you undertake training in becoming a teacher of lipreading you learn all about the theory of how speech sounds are made, as well as common confusions in speech, tactics to improve communication and strategies to support people manage their hearing loss better! If you are looking for a teacher of lip-reading you should look for someone who is registered with ATLA, the Association of Teachers of Lip-reading to Adults.
Myths about Lipreading
Sometimes people say “but everyone lipreads a little – you don’t need to take a class”. And it’s true, most people do lipread a little. However a lip-reading class can help you improve this natural skill. But then people also ask if they take a class – how long does it take for them to become an expert lip-reader? Sadly, there is no such thing as an expert lip-reader! Yes, you may have watched crime fiction programmes and the hero detective watches the CCTV camera footage. And having watched it one or two times, despite the picture being poorly lit, and the suspect being far away, and the footage is a bit grainy…the detective reads their lips and solves the case. But, lipreading accurately in such a scenario is highly unlikely. Successful lipreading is more than just watching the mouth, jaws and lip movements.
What does lipreading involve?
Successful lipreading also requires you to know the context. You have to fill in gaps, as only 30% of spoken English is visible on the mouth. And you have to be certain that the person you are lip-reading is speaking English – which may not be the case in the crime fiction programme! Lipreading requires a blend of a number of skills and appropriate elements.
The benefits of lipreading
There has been significant amounts of research which suggest a person who has a hearing loss, when provided with hearing aids and lip-reading training, can reduce their personal risk of the onset of dementia. And we are social creatures. When we reduce our ability to take part in communication we become isolated, depressed and our mental wellbeing can suffer. Lipreading classes are a relaxed social event where learning is fun. And the skills you acquire can assist in regaining confidence in communicating with friends, loved ones and colleagues. Why would you delay?