Hearing Loss, and its impact on people

There are many reasons why people have a hearing loss, and it impacts people of all ages.

However, through joining lipreading and hearing loss management classes, I have developed strategies that have helped me minimise the isolation. This has given me the confidence to challenge some of the less hearing loss friendly aspects of my life.

It may just be simple things like where you sit in a room or ask people not to cover their mouth when the speak. (The world of coronavirus and face masks offers a whole new challenge in this regard.) Then there are wider situations like asking a pub to turn off the music in one of the bars, so you’re not competing with it when talking with friends or family.

Also, learn not to be afraid to wear your hearing aids. Until lockdown, I’ve always had short hair and was wary of being seen with my hearing aids. But because of the difference they made to what I could hear, I had to ‘go for it’ and I haven’t looked back. Yes, there are still people who’ll say ‘pardon’ when you say you have a hearing loss – and they think it’s funny! However, by attending classes and having a supportive peer group, I’ve gained the confidence and understanding that it’s their issue and not mine. Hopefully I have the chance to talk to them about why they think ‘pardon’ is appropriate.

Since I first started attending lipreading classes over 10 years ago, I’ve made friends with people in similar circumstances. We all continue to spread the world of the benefits of lipreading and hearing loss management.

A couple of years ago a charity The Leslie Edwards Trust (LET) based in Loughborough, advised that they could fund the training of a new lipreading tutor. I have been a qualified further education lecturer since the mid 1990’s and have always enjoyed sharing my skills in teaching at local colleges and in the community, alongside my ‘day job’.

My ‘day job’ has mainly been in computing and IT, designing, developing and latterly project managing IT systems for the commercial and education sector. I knew that tutoring in lipreading and hearing loss management would be a big change, but why not ‘go for it’ and be my own boss? I was successful in my application for funding from LET and also from the City Lit college in Covent Garden, London, for my Lipreading teacher Training Course. The course took an academic year to complete, with assignments, teaching practice and teaching observations. I met prospective tutors from all over the country, who all had their own reasons for wanting to start a new career.

The impact of coronavirus meant that the final blocks of the course had to be taught online. This was a big change, and all credit to the College for keeping the course on track. I graduated as planned. This change to online working removed geographical boundaries, so latterly I have observed a tutor teaching in Scotland. It had been a face to face class, it wouldn’t have been possible.

As I formally launch my business, I have four classes each week for people of all ages who wish to learn more about lipreading and hearing loss management. The classes are all online at the moment. People can take part on Zoom with anything from a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a big screen on a desktop PC.

I’ve enjoyed the style of teaching that my tutors used when I was a student, and I continue to use that in the online classes, with a mix of interactive exercises to practice our lipreading.

You don’t have to share information about your hearing loss, unless you want to. Yes, we’ve had to make changes for the online environment… for example, you bring your own tea or coffee to the class, but there’s still time for people to chat to one another and catch up on the news. Humour is also part of the classes, as you build your confidence to be yourself. We cover a variety of topics in classes that involve everyday situations, so food and drink have featured in several lessons. As you will see in classes, if you take away the sound, the lip shape can look the same for a number of words. With a supportive environment and the tools and techniques of lipreading, we can help unravel the correct words.

Try for yourself by looking in a mirror and saying the words red and green, without your voice!

If you think lipreading and hearing loss management classes would help you communicate for a better life, then please get in touch.

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