Lipreading Practice

John is determined not to let his problems get him down Despite his deafness,....

"I’m not going to whinge about it. I could have been killed, lost a leg or been blinded. I feel it’s rather bad karma to complain about it."

Donna Bowater The Telegraph

Hearing Loss - What can we do??

I think that at first we don't really notice that we have a hearing problem – most of us think that other people are not speaking clearly - they're mumbling.

I cannot speak for anyone else about how to cope with hearing loss but I can give examples of my own coming to terms with hearing loss and some of the experiences of my lipreading friends. This may be helpful and enable others to find their own strategies to overcome their hearing loss.
If you think you have a hearing loss see a specialist asap and make sure that you get as much help as you can. Do it quickly before you lose your confidence.

Suggested coping strategies.


Everyone says that first and foremost one has to accept the condition. This is true but some of us find it harder than others. When first diagnosed with a hearing loss many, but not all, people have a sense of disbelief and a feeling of loss. I know I found it very hard to comprehend and to take in the impact that it was having on my life.
Family and friends also need accept your hearing loss and to help you accept and learn to live with the situation. Very often people don't know how to deal with people who have a hearing loss and we need to give them information so that they can help us. We all want to have this social interaction with our friends so it is in everybody's interest.

Jack Ashley describes such a situation in his book “Journey into silence”. But he also goes on to describe the amazing support warmth and support that he found when he was trying to continue his role in the House of Commons as the first deaf MP.

Some possible consequences

I realised that increasingly I did not want to go to parties or other large functions because I could not hear well enough and there were two effects on me in this situation. One was I didn't want to make myself look silly by saying the wrong thing and two, very difficult to overcome, was the sense of isolation and loneliness I felt when I was in these groups. At first I didn't tell anyone and of course this was NO HELP at all. If people don't know they can't help. They must have thought that I was such a miserable, introspective sort of person. It took a long time for me to accept that no matter how hard I tried, I could not hear very well in most situations even with hearing aids(1986-1995).
I found that I lost a lot of confidence and even when I was studying for my degrees with the Open University I didn't tell anyone. I sat in the tutorials and said virtually nothing. It was only in one to one discussions with my tutor that I ventured to talk about my work. MY Tutor said that she didn't know how much I understood because I didn't say anything in the discussions. AND still I didn't tell her I couldn't hear well enough to contribute.

It was very difficult to accept that I could not hear my family and friends and the children and staff very well. I agonised how I was going to continue to do my job as headteacher properly. My hearing loss changed my way of teaching because I could not ask questions in assembly as I knew that I would not hear any answers. I found that I no longer enjoyed being in the classroom as I couldn't hear the children and with my hearing aids turned up I thought that they were being very noisy. Not so! said my teacher Assistant. I remember on one occasion a child asked me for a spelling and I wrote down what I thought she had asked for; to be greeted with a puzzled – “I didn't think it started with that letter Miss!” Also I found meetings very stressful because I missed so much (no loop systems then). Eventually I retired and found that I really had reached rock bottom. What to do?


Think Positive

  1. I now had much more time and I made up my mind to DO something for myself (and everybody else really). I began to learn to lipread. My Tutor was wonderful and I went on to attend an advanced class with her. Here I became quite a skilled lipreader. Of course I still get things wrong sometimes because lipreading is like that But I have become more confident. And I have taught lipreading since 2006 which I hope has helped others and helping others has certainly helped me.
  2. I tried to change my attitude and become more open and not only tell people about my hearing loss but how they could help me. (See top tips page)
  3. I tried to be a much happier person so that even if I couldn't hear, people would want to be with me because I smiled and was a nice person to be with.
  4. Remember whatever is available to help - Do what is best for you!!!!

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement”
Helen Keller

Lipreading & Communication

In my opinion, if you can, the best way to help yourself come to terms with hearing loss is to join a lipreading class. Here you not only begin to pick up lipreading skills but you have an opportunity to talk in a safe environment with people who have similar problems to your own. This is not a whinging group but an opportunity to share experiences and ideas and suggest useful strategies to overcome some of the problems. The expertise, experience and knowledge of the tutor is so helpful!! When you are more accepting of the hearing loss then you can begin to think of strategies and resources to help you interact better. You also begin to develop more self- confidence and are better able to say what you need to facilitate better interaction in a variety of situations. If this isn't for you to start with, perhaps there is a support group or club in your area that could help. There may even be befrienders who are people who can listen, provide support and some guidance to help in those early days of coming to terms with a hearing loss.

  1. Try to go to a lipreading class or support group. You will learn a lot not only about lipreading but about how others manage, what else is available and you could make new friends. Lipreading classes can be useful, interesting and fun. (See AtLA website or your local Adult Community Centre or Hospital for courses.)
  2. If you want to you can learn to sign too. (See your local Adult Community Centre or Hospital for courses).
  3. It may sound silly but keep a pen and paper handy so that if all else fails you can write notes to each other.


  1. There is so much around today that can help us to be more involved in the hearing world and take an active part in it too. Take time to find something that suits you! Take your choice from the many hearing aids available both on the NHS and from private consultants.
  2. Use the loop system that is now widely used in all walks of life. If it doesn't work ask for it to be switched on repaired or replaced. If you can use one of the many different personal amplifiers and a TV listening product (See Action on Hearing Loss products or other providers on the internet or possibly at your local hospital or Hearing Support Group.
  3. Use the subtitles to help you follow your favourite TV programmes.
  4. Mobile and landline phones are much improved for those with a hearing loss and there is the text type phone or text on your mobile email or even skype.
  5. The first of the Smart hearing aids that will link to you I-phone is now available – more will follow. The new technology enables them to link with your I-phone. Keep an eye out for these.

Get involved - don't give up interacting with other people.

The strategies that work for you will depend upon your hearing loss and the situations that you will be in with your family and friends. Many of us isolate ourselves as we do not want to make ourselves look silly or to experience that awful feeling of being lonely in a crowd. Even the most successful of us have experienced that at some time I'm sure. It used to feel to me that I had been sent to Coventry. I knew this wasn't true but that's how I felt. Strangely I find it is my newer friends that I can communicate with more easily because they have never known me other than with a hearing loss. My old friends sometimes forget because they can remember when I could hear very well!

  1. Try to find something that interests you where you can meet and mix with others. We all need companionship. We need to commit ourselves to making the best of what we have!
  2. It may take a while but if you keep at you will find that it gets easier and people learn how to help you become more involved.
  3. When you help others to understand how to help you to communicate better you are not just helping yourself you are helping every other hard of hearing person that your colleagues and friends meet

Get involved - don't give up interacting with other people.

  1. When you have a hearing loss you have to concentrate to be able to interpret what the other person is saying. This makes hard of hearing people very good listeners.
  2. This is food for thought! None so deaf as those who will not hear.

Matthew (Mathew) Henry Quotes , Source: Commentaries (Psalm LVIII)

Get involved - don't give up interacting with other people.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Helen Keller.

Together we can help to raise awareness for everyone's benefit.