Setting up a lipreading business during the Covid Pandemic
It’s been strange setting up my lipreading and hearing loss management business during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it’s offered lots of opportunities we perhaps wouldn’t have had in our previous ‘normal’ times.
Lipreading has probably had much more press that it would otherwise. The wearing of face masks during the pandemic has highlighted how much people have relied on lipreading. A number of people have even developed masks with see through panels so you can see people speaking.
It was good to see the Government press release in early September addressing this issue. It should hopefully help all of us with hearing loss to have a better experience when we need to visit NHS front line services or are in a social care environment.
There are also opportunities for all of us to buy a mask with a clear panel. Those who attend craft fairs in Nottinghamshire may already be aware of the work of Wildgoose Designs. Sarah Sewell has been making clear masks and raising money for local hearing loss charities.
So, whilst face masks continue to be part of our day-to-day lives, Professor Kevin Munro and Michael Stone published some advice recently for those with hearing loss:
So, what can you do to improve communication if you have a hearing loss and
are confronted by someone wearing a face mask?
• Ask them to reduce the background noise as much as possible or move to a quieter location.
• Ask them to talk slowly and not shout.
• If you have a hearing aid, make sure to wear it.
• Some hospitals provide portable hearing amplifiers to help with
communication if you have lost your hearing aid or it has stopped working.
• If you don’t have a hearing aid but need one, you can always download
a hearing aid app to your mobile phone that can provide amplification to
improve speech understanding. Or you can find an app that translates speech
into text in real-time.
In my lipreading classes I include information on managing your hearing loss, with tools and techniques to help you get the best out of your hearing – and how you can work with those you’re communicating with to help you.
You may also have heard of the Sunflower Lanyard scheme – https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/. This is a discrete way to make people aware that you have a hidden disability. I wear mine with a badge that says ‘lipreader at work, please face me’. However, please be aware the lanyard doesn’t give an exemption from wearing a face mask.
Many supermarkets and other organisations have signed up to this scheme during the pandemic, so ask at your local supermarket if they have a lanyard.
If you would be interested in:
• lipreading and hearing loss management classes
• a talk for a community group about hearing loss management
• making your workplace more hearing loss friendly through a hearing loss awareness course.
These classes are all online at the moment; however, face to face classes will resume when the time is appropriate. These will initially be based in Nottingham and Loughborough.