Hearing Link

Meet the members: Loughborough Lipreading Group

Loughborough Lipreading Group is a large and friendly class of mixed-ability for people with varying degrees of hearing loss.

Before COVID, the group held regular face-to-face lipreading classes.  Like many other social groups, they were no longer able to meet up together in person once the social distancing measures were imposed at local and national levels because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Group members decided to think outside the box and pioneer a new form of lipreading class online, via Zoom. Delivering the classes online has enabled the group to reach out further than their usual mix of local learners.

The classes are being accessed by people with hearing loss throughout the East Midlands area, helping them to deal with the isolation they have experienced during COVID.

Lipreading tutor Helen Barrow, who runs the classes on behalf of The Leslie Edwards Trust, said: ‘The mandatory requirement for face masks / coverings to be worn on public transport, shops and other public buildings, causes many communication difficulties for people with hearing loss. This often leads to frustration and loneliness. Joining a class that also provides opportunities for sharing those problems, with others in the same situation, can be invaluable’.

Two groups meet each week for an hour-long class.  Sessions include exercises and fun quizzes which helps members to learn new things, while improving their lipreading and communication skills.

Each class is for up to eight people which gives everyone participating the opportunity to be viewed on the screen by the lipreading tutor.

Whilst the classes have been met with great enthusiasm by members, they have also identified some restrictions to using Zoom, as opposed to meeting face-to-face.

For example, some members were unable to access the Zoom classes at all, due to not having the appropriate equipment or the ability to get online. They also realised that because only the head and shoulders of the class members is visible when using the Zoom platform, some of the ability to read body language is lost.

Helen said: “Reading body language is a vital factor in developing communication skills.”

However, the group tries to get round any misunderstandings of what is being discussed by using the ‘Chat’ function which helps put the topics being discussed into context.

Helen said: “Using online technologies, such as Zoom, enables us to keep in contact and practice our vital lipreading and hearing loss management skills, in a welcoming and supportive environment during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Members are also encouraged to share any tips of their own as they advocate a sense of ‘learning from each other’.

One such tip was to wear specific badges, lanyards or face masks / coverings when out and about to alert others that they have hearing loss and are trying to lipread.

Helen particularly found the Hearing Link accessible face covering useful which says ‘I have hearing loss and I lipread’. It resulted in people talking louder or dropping their mask briefly to allow her to lipread.

Loughborough Lipreading Group have really shown how they can keep going against the odds.   They have thrived on the opportunity to continue to improve their lipreading skills with these fun and informative classes during such a difficult time.

If you are interested in finding out more about the group, contact details can be found on their webpage.

Thanks to all at Loughborough Lipreading Group for taking part in our ‘Meet the Members’ feature. Are you an individual or group member who would like to take part? Get in touch by emailing enquiries@hearinglink.org. For more information on our accessible face coverings or other items that might help, visit the Hearing Link Shop.

Hearing Link offers affiliation to groups and organisations that support people with hearing loss. Whether you run a deaf club, lipreading group or an organisation working with people with hearing loss in your local community, we are here to support you and work with you. Find out more about membership.

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