Posted by: sueread67 | June 3, 2011

Why do I have to pay in order to hear?

So now I am coming up to my last free lipreading lesson! I have been attending lipreading classes in Ipswich for the last 2 years which have been funded by Suffolk County Council. For this I am very grateful.
However, from September we will have to pay £4.00 per lesson – even for the ones we miss through illness etc. It is extremely frustrating to think I am being charged for something many people take for granted – the ability to hear!
I would be interested to know what hearing people think about this.
Final note – lipreading classes are classified as leisure learning – RNID are campaigning to get lipreading reclassified as an essential skill – why on earth isn’t lipreading already classified as an essential skill?

Posted by: sueread67 | November 19, 2010

Hearing for Leisure?

I just feel so compelled to write about this subject – I mean why on earth should anyone want to hear simply for leisure.

The idea of wanting to hear for leisure is quite simply ludicrous.  Lipreading is an essential skill for many hard of hearing and deaf people but lipreading classes are classified as ‘leisure learning’.  However the UK Skills Minister, John Hayes, has pledged to consider reclassifying lipreading as an essential skill.

In Suffolk we are privileged to have free lipreading classes for up to three years, I am a second year student.  The reason for my attendance is due to my hearing loss – moderate loss across the range in my left ear, moderate low frequency and severe to profound high frequency loss in my right ear.  The severity of my high frequency loss makes it very difficult to hear speech – as for television, radio and other amplified sounds, well that is a no-no for me.  If there is any background noise then it is virtually impossible for me to hear the speech of someone in front of me, this is where my lipreading skills are essential.  Some people’s speech is so mumbled in my ears that I need to lipread them even in a quiet environment.

So how easy is it to lipread?

Only 30% of the English language is lipreadable, so it takes a minimum of 1 year to learn lipreading – some people still struggle after 3 years of classes.  Imagine the despair of some people in England in having to find £300/year to pay for this essential skill.

The classes in Suffolk are brilliant and I feel privileged to have a wonderful teacher.  She is hard of hearing herself and therefore understands how we feel.  The lessons mostly consist of being taught to lipread but there is much more to the course than that.  We are taught deaf awareness – tips on how to make it easier for us to listen and also tips for hearing people on how to communicate with us.  Some of these tips are in my previous blog ‘Hearing Frustration’.  We are also taught about assistive equipment, how the ear works, tinnitus and many other things too.  My particular class has a lovely bunch of people in it and we had some lovely people last year who, unfortunately, have come to the end of their 3 years’ quota.  However, we meet once a month in town for coffee and to give each other moral support.

Over the last 4 months I have had the additional problem of recurring ear infections meaning that I cannot use my hearing aids.  This has made life VERY DIFFICULT for me and I now rely even more on lipreading.  I have found it extremely tiring when I am out and need to lipread for any length of time, especially when I have an earache too.  Lipreading takes an enormous amount of concentration – can you imagine having to focus on someone’s mouth for any length of time?  I would most definitely consider lipreading to be an essential skill in order that I may hear people.

I now return to the beginning – do you hear for leisure?  Do you think lipreading classes should be classified as ‘leisure learning’?  To put it simply – if I had to pay£300/year for lipreading classes then I quite simply would not be able to hear conversation, the lady at the checkout, the man in the post office, the Minister on Sunday mornings, my husband or son, etc etc.

Posted by: sueread67 | May 7, 2010

Hearing Frustration

Just wanted to put into words the frustrations of being hard of hearing.

The majority of people have no idea what it is like to lose your hearing even if it is only partial.

When I tell people that I am hard of hearing a common misconception is that I simply need the volume turned up or that they need to shout.   This is totally wrong and the worst possible remedy to aid my hearing.  I have moderate high frequency loss in my left ear and severe high frequency loss in my right ear.  This means that I do not hear speech clearly.  Therefore, if  it becomes louder, then all I hear is a loud ‘mumble’.  It is VERY frustrating to explain this to someone who then does not remember and makes a comment at a later date about turning volume up or speaking louder.  Due to the nature of my hearing loss some loud sounds are very uncomfortable in my ears – feels a bit like when you exit a nightclub!

With the aid of induction loops I have now realised that I have been hearing music ‘wrong’ for most of my life.  Some tones I have either not heard or have heard them wrong – this explains why I could never tune up my trumpet.  Again, turning up the volume only exasperates the problem.  In fact loud music is very uncomfortable for me without an induction loop and exposure for as little as 10 minutes can result in a headache due to the way in which my ears hear the sound.

Something else frustrating – when I say pardon, the last part of a sentence is repeated and I have missed the first part.  People do not seem to want to repeat a whole sentence.  I also find it very hard to hear with background noise of any kind.  Some people’s voices are hard for me to understand on the phone, therefore I lack confidence using the phone and do my best to have avoid phone conversations.

Another frustration – jokes about hearing loss – I won’t even get started on that one.

I do NOT like being called deaf – I am not deaf and I am not stupid just because I don’t hear everything!  Beware though, you might be surprised what I do hear if you try talking behind my back.

Often I find I hear the opposite to what is being said and this has often caused arguments, especially with my husband.  Also I find that people have told me something which I haven’t heard – I then, at a later date, ask them why they didn’t tell me.

I feel that many people think I am making a fuss because I have become good (I think) at either guessing what people say, filling in the gaps or pretending that I heard something. Some people believe that I hear ‘well’ because I have 2 hearing aids but they are aids not cures.

I hate the sarcastic looks I get off some people (so called friends) when they see my lipreader badge.  No I do not lipread everyone, and I am not a ‘fluent lipreader’ yet. I wear the badge because I partially lipread some people that I can’t hear (especially in shops), and also because if people think I am lipreading then they face me when they talk.  The majority of people with hearing loss simply canNOT hear people who do not face them, whether lipreading or not. Something worth remembering is lipreaders do not like to see food or chewing gum when they are lipreading.  Also lipreaders have a tendency to look at people’s mouths even when they are not speaking!

Also, I have found when speaking to people that they do not understand what induction loops do and why I rely on them a lot.  Induction loops do NOT turn up the volume.  Induction loops make everything very much clearer, although I can turn up the volume on my hearing aids and also on my personal induction loop which I use at home.  Without an induction loop I could not hear everthing at Church – now we have a new building and induction loop so I can hear 99% of everything (probably as much as normal hearing people).  Simply turning up my hearing aids does not have the same effect.  I now rely on induction loops for any public speaking, music and any amplified sounds.  I am fortunate enough to have an induction loop for my TV – when this is not available I rely on subtitles.

Another problem is my family.  They get very frustrated (understandably) with me when I repeatedly cannot hear what they are saying.  This can often end up in arguments because they are fed up with repeating themselves and I am fed up with not being able to hear.

A tiny minority of people think they understand because they have ‘had an ear infection’, ‘had a blocked up ear for a week’, or for other reasons – this is so annoying.  When I come across these people I think  ‘how would you like to stick ear plugs in your ears for a month, then you might understand!’.

I will finish with some tips to aid communication either with myself or other hard of hearing people.

1.  Face the person you are speaking to (good manners as well).

2.  Speak clearly but do not shout.

3.  If you cannot make yourself heard then try re-phrasing.

4.  Do not cover your mouth so as to prevent lipreading.

5.  Try and learn some finger spelling (very easy).

6.  Try not to have any background noise.

7.  Try writing.

8.  If you are speaking in public, make sure you face your audience.

9.  Last of all – if you cannot make yourself understood – LAUGH! (with me, not at me).

Oh – and one more – talk to me on Facebook and save your phone bill.

Posted by: sueread67 | May 7, 2010

My first p0st on WordPress!  Just shows you are never too old to learn something new.