Oddly enough… It involves reading lips. That’s obvious but what’s less obvious is that everybody reads lips even people with normal hearing.
In a noisy bar you’ve my not here as well if you can’t see the other person’s mouth stop when you’re watching TV and your favourite footballer misses a goal, you see his frustration because the F and SH are easy to recognise.
There’s more to lip reading and watching the speaker’s mouth teeth and tongue. It’s their facial expression and body language too. Are they looking sad or are they relaxed or tense? Taken together they may help anticipate the situation and understand what’s being said. The brain is very good at filling in the gaps, and often it’s educated guess work.
What makes it more complicated is that speech has evolved for hearing, not lipreading. That means that only about 30% of speech can be seen – and this is a speaker with good lip movements. Many words look the same on the lips. Ask a friend to say the following (silently) and see if you can recognise the words: “Matt” and “Pat”, or “fan” and “van”.
Try “I love you”, “I love food”, “biscuit” and…”You kiss”. They look similar, and lipreading errors can lead to embarrassing or funny situations.
If you have a hearing loss it helps to wear your hearing aids and glasses. It takes great concentration to be a good lip reader and can make you very tired.
Managing your hearing loss
For most people hearing loss happens gradually, a little bit like putting on weight. You don’t realise it to the close start to feel tight. Is it hard to follow conversation when there is background noise? Space do you struggle to hear in meetings, or find that children are mumbling? Are you turning the TV up to loud?
Maybe you have hearing loss, just like us.
We teach techniques to help with difficult situations. We encourage you to be assertive and upfront about your hearing loss and how you can educate your family and friends. It’s simple techniques such as getting your attention by saying the name and facing you.
We explain how the ear works, how we hear and what can go wrong. This takes the mystery out of hearing loss.
We love our hearing aids and cochlear implants, but they are complicated devices how do you use them? What type are available and who can you trust for advice? These are things that people in our classes understand. They have hearing loss to and often they know.
Our educational program has evolved over 70 years and information you specially need to manage your hearing loss will be included into these sessions. Better hearing Australia Canberra and other BHA branches are the only organisations in Australia that conduct reading classes.
We learn together and from each other.
What others say
Friendship and help with coping with various problems caused by hearing disability. We have lots of fun and make lots of new friends. Our teachers are wonderful and help us to manage our hearing loss as best we can.
I’ve learned not to fear losing my hearing because I meet people who have a lot of knowledge about hearing aids, etc, technology-space plus good communication strategies. Lip reading is only one of the many skills I’ve learned in the classes.