Hearing Link

Hearing loss & shopping

Lipreaders know that numbers are tricky to lipread. ‘Fifteen’ looks like ‘fifty’ for example.

Lipreading numbers

In a small shop you may like to estimate how much you think the total will be by rounding everything under 50p down to the nearest £ and everything over 50p up to the nearest £. So £1.49p becomes £1.00 and £1.51p becomes £2.00.

This enables you to find it easier to lipread the amount the shop assistant says and to have your money ready.

  • Look at the figures on the till
  • Ask the shop assistant to write it down
  • Ask a closed question e.g. ‘Did you say £5?’
  • Use the hearing loop system, if there is one (look for the loop sign). If there is one and it isn’t working – complain!
  • Use your hands to help you – e.g. ‘Did you say £5?’ and hold up five fingers as you ask. People copy body language. The assistant will probably reply by using their hands as well e.g. ‘No, I said £4’ and they hold up four fingers as they speak.

Using ‘closed’ questions

An open question is one to which the answer could be more than one thing. For example, if you ask, ‘Did you say £5 or £4?’ the response could be either ‘£4′ or £5’ which both look the same on the lips. If you then ask, ‘What did you say?’ the speaker may well repeat what they have already said – which you have just been unable to hear or lipread.

A closed question is one where the answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example, if you ask, ‘Did you say £4?’ the speaker will answer either ‘Yes, I said £4’ or ‘No, I said £5.’ If accompanied by a shake or nod of the head, the answer is even more helpful.

Useful shopping tips

  • Pay by card – this give you the chance to read the total before you tap or type in your number.
  • In the supermaket look for a till with a hearing loop – ask the staff member if it’s working and if not – complain. If it is working you may still have difficulty as you may have had to move along as you do your packing and therefore move out of range of the loop. But if you’ve already asked the cashier if the loop is working, they should be more aware.
  • In the supermarket use the self check out.
  • If you use Morrisons try their ‘Quiet Hour’ on Saturday from 9-10am – set up to help those with autism and others who find excess noise difficult – if you can use this tell the store that you’re accessing it because of your hearing loss – the more we tell people, the more likely such initiatives are to catch on and be used by other stores.

Join a lipreading class

If possible, find a Lipreading and managing hearing loss class – all ATLA (Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults) qualified teachers will include all the above ideas, and many more, in their classes.


Webpage published: 2018

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