Training to be a lipreading tutor

By Helen Hollings

By the time I was 20 years old I was using two hearing aids due to a decline in my hearing, having been born deaf with a severe hearing loss in my left ear. I have always enjoyed sport, running and swam at the World Deaf Games in 1997 in Denmark. I then had my children and got my swimming teaching certificates and starting just casually teaching. As my hearing deteriorated further, I went to lipreading classes as I felt I was not managing and just needed something. I also found it difficult sometimes to tell people I was deaf and needed them to face me.

On my first lesson I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but I was captivated and inspired by our lipreading class tutor.  Having come from a teaching background I saw myself wanting to teach what Jackie taught, and when a local charity gave a presentation about tutor training and becoming lipreading teachers for them, I jumped at the chance as it was something that I had been thinking about already.

I knew I had to complete a specialist lipreading course to be able to tutor lipreading and the charity highly recommended the City Lit course. The course fitted around my existing teaching, my own lipreading classes and I liked the format of the course that it was one weekend a month. I was told each session would be an intense weekend with lots of work, but then we had three weeks until the next session and this gave me time to process the information learned in the session and do my homework. It suited my learning style.

The course has opened the door for me to tutor lipreading and make my dream come true.  I learned so much during the course, had lots of fun and gained enormous amounts of guidance and support from the tutors delivering the training: Lorraine Braggins and Fiona Pickett.

I am delivering two face-to-face lipreading classes a week at Stratford-upon-Avon and Kenilworth for CELST charity. The Kenilworth class I was once a student in, I am now the tutor as Jackie retired.

To become a lipreading tutor you need to enjoy working with people who have any type of hearing loss, be understanding and have an interest in this field of study. Being deaf myself has helped as I can relate easily to the topics like background noise, specialist equipment, face masks/coverings and day-to-day things that I do managing hearing loss. Not that this is to put people with normal hearing off, they do need to have had some experience with someone with hearing loss, a friend or a relative.

It is very rewarding work so see a new group grow in confidence, make new friends, and develop lipreading skills as we progress through the weeks/months of the course. It’s lots of fun too.

The course is intense, and you do need to be organised and be prepared to put the work in. The more you work on the course the more you will get out of it.

As a deafened person, having now just received a cochlear implant, I find teaching lipreading very satisfying, fun, and calming. I have come from a busy teaching background where I often felt stressed, lacking confidence and out of my depth with my inability to hear, but going to lipreading classes and then completing my tutor training my confidence has grown and I am now not afraid to talk about my hearing loss and help others in the same situation and educate hearing people about hearing loss.

If you are interested in finding out more about training to be a lipreading tutor, City Lit is hosting its next teacher training course from October. To find out more, email lipreading@citylit.ac.uk or visit the City Lit website. 

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Hearing Link Services or Hearing Dogs for Deaf People unless explicitly stated.

Helen Hollings

Helen HollingsHelen was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss on her left side when she was a young child, and by the age of 19 was using powerful hearing aids in both ears. Helen loves sport and represented Great Britain in 1997 at the World Deaf Games. She was inspired to train to become a lipreading tutor in 2021 after attending lipreading classes in her local community, and is now a class tutor after qualifying at City Lit. She received a cochlear implant in April 2022.

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