Speechreading Tips and Hints

Speechreading Tips & Hints
(also called Lipreading)

I teach speechreading at work and it’s becoming a popular class. The classes become a support group of sorts and we all share any insights we might have about lip shapes. They teach me as much as much as I teach them. I enjoy leading this class and sometimes I talk about it on Facebook. I have lots of hard of hearing friends thanks to attending hearing loss conventions. A number of those friends reply to my posts saying they wished they could take the class so I thought maybe I’d start sharing some of what I do here. I’ll even try adding videos.

You’re going to see me swap out the terms speechreading and lipreading. It’s the same thing but someone thought speechreading was better since it’s not lipreading alone. We rely on facial expressions, body language, gestures and situational cues as an aid to reading lips.

First of all, I am not the best lip reader and my students have witnessed me bomb…which I think actually helps them. It keeps it real, lowering expectations for themselves. It’s not something that just snaps in – it takes time, practice and patience which is why I also try to make the class fun. Having a sense of humor is a great help. So I’m not the best and I’m not the worst either. I fall somewhere in between. The students see my confidence and they know I don’t fear social situations and maybe that’s enough to encourage them.

Without hearing aids or my eyes I have a 30% word discrimination. With hearing aids and no eyes I have a 60% word discrimination. With my eyes and hearing aids I catch about 90% of what’s said. Without hearing aids and my eyes I’d guess I’m somewhere around 70%. Lipreading fills in the gaps hearing aids miss. I still get stuck on words but I have ways around that now too. I use my remaining hearing to aid speechreading, they work together.

My speechreading ability depends on a few things:
~Advocating for my needs and making sure the other person knows I use lipreading. I often tell grocery store clerks, “I hear enough to know you are talking but I use lipreading to hear.”
~Whether or not I’m tired. My brain works lightning fast piecing together what I heard and saw all while using deduction to make sure it fits into a proper sentence/thought. If I’m tired, or sick, it’s hard penetrate the brain fog and I can’t keep up.
~How well I know the person. I have a harder time with new people but as I get used to people I do better and better.
~How long I’m lipreading. After a two hour meeting my brain is fried and then I go into shutdown mode for an hour or so afterward to recuperate.
~Am I relaxed or uptight? The more relaxed I am the better I do. The harder I try, the worse I get.

It also depends on the speaker, here are some examples….
~Do they talk too fast or too slow? Yes there’s such a thing as too slow and I call it monkey lips. That’s when people over exaggerate their words in slow motion.
~Do they have a mustache that covers their lips?
~Do they keep turning their head? Some people habitually turn away while giving me directions.
~Did they get my attention before speaking? If everyone did this, it would cut down on many a repeat.
~Do they have an accent? Accents shape words a little differently. After a while I can get used to that too but it takes more time.

I think all hard of hearing people use lipreading to a degree but taking the class brings it up to the next level. During my first class I encourage the students to start focusing on lips and tell people they are reading lips, even if they are just starting. Get in the habit of it. For practice, watch the news with low volume and try reading reporters lips. Use captions (which are usually slightly behind) to figure it out. Some reporters are going to be easier to understand than others simply because they form their words better than others.  You might surprise yourself with how much you catch.  To prove that point in class, I’ll turn my back and read a paragraph.  How much did they get? Very little.  When I turn back around, they get a lot more.  We are already doing it.

Chelle

Me and my red hearing aid molds.

 

The Difference a Hearing Loop Can Make

I’ve known the Unitarian Church in Salt Lake was one of the few venues looped for at least a year or so now.  I kept meaning to go and test it but just found the time today.  I went to test the loop mainly but I liked the service and people so I’ll go again.

Those two signs together are so welcoming!

It’s nice that they have included those with hearing loss into their congregation.  When the service started I tuned in with my t-coil program.  I heard a bowl struck, a high-pitched ‘ting’, giving me an instant thrill because I could hear it. Next was a piano intro, a beautiful piece and the high notes were richer through the loop.

Next came the choir accompanied by the piano and I was lost.  It sounded good but the piano overshadows words so it’s hard to understand lyrics.   I locked onto certain mouths trying to lipread. I could find words here and there but nothing to make sense of the song.  It was interesting to note that some people really over exaggerate their words/mouth while singing and others stay more more normal.  Hanging notes make it hard to lipread no matter what.

The opening  came next and every word came through the loop and into my ears.  It’s always a thrill for me to go somewhere looped and hear words without having to lipread, without extreme concentration and fatigue.  Word flowed into my ears,  words like chalice which I’ve never heard spoken out loud before.  For the first time today, I learned how to pronounce it properly.  I’ve been saying it in my head wrong all these years!

Then came a hymn. When they announced the hymn number, I had been taking notes so my head was elsewhere.  I stood up with everyone, without taking up the hymn book and tried lipreading again without much luck.

A short, guided mediation came next. For a many, many years I’ve had to keep my eyes open for prayers/meditations to lipread and this time I didn’t have to look understanding every word.  It involved following the breath, big inhales and exhales…right in my ears.  It was like someone blowing in my ear without the physical effect which cracked me up.  Does everyone hear that and I never knew?  It was hard to concentrate at first but soon I was deep breathing too.

More singing and with me realizing although music sounds better, I’ll probably never really pick up on lyrics again.

As they passed the offering bowl around, someone in the pew in front of me tried talking to me, probably wanted to say hi and welcome.  I was in t-coil mode and didn’t know what to expect next in the servcie so I told her I couldn’t hear her and to wait while pointing at my ear.  My hair happened to be pulled up and back so my red ear molds were clearly visible.  She saw them and nodded. Just after that, the minister came to welcome me personally and I had a chance to tell him him how much I appreciated the hearing loop.  He asked how it was working and I said it was great and told him for the first time I could follow a guided meditation without watching him.  He did a little fist pump in the air.  I told him I worked at the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing center and told him I’d be happy to talk more about the loop and give them more information.  He took one of my cards and hopefully we will be in touch.

He went back up front and started to read from a book.  Usually when someone quotes straight from a book I have a hard time following along.  Voices tend to go flat without rhythm and tone but this guy was pretty good.  He read slow enough there were pauses and because he read it so much (he confessed) there was the typical rise and fall of speech.

More singing and this time I noticed the hymn number was on the handout they gave us.  I picked up the hymn book, found the page and tried to follow along…and failed. It didn’t even matter that I had the book and words in front of me.  I lost my place because of the hanging notes.  I put the book down and appreciated the sound of voices and music.  I should note the choir didn’t have a mic so maybe that’s what made it so tough.

The sermon was next which I followed easily still.  I realized I didn’t have the concentration face at all, no furrowed brow and squinty eyes.  No fatigue either. I even picked up on something he said wrong.  He meant to say Facebook but he said Fakebook.  I got to laugh in time with everyone else.  It’s not very often I can tell a c from k sound.

It didn’t last much longer and as soon we were done, I went into the front pew to sit next to the lady who tried to talk to me earlier.  “I didn’t mean to blow you off,” I told her, “I wear hearing aids and I was in my t-coil program so I couldn’t hear you right then.”

“Oh that’s okay’, she said, “I work with a few people who wear hearing aids so as soon as you pointed to your ear I knew.”  (See, gestures even help hearing people.)

So she asked me about the t-coil, I explained the loop and how my hearing aids pick sound up.  Her response was, “I need something like that so I can focus more too.”  Ha ha.

Everyone was invited into another room to mingle and I would have but I was starving!  I only ate an apple before leaving the house.  I started a new diet last Wednesday that doesn’t include, dairy, sugar, and processed food so I didn’t dare go into a room with all that handy while that hungry.  I’ll go again because listening was effortless and hang out afterward, I will make sure I have a better breakfast next time too.

Hearing Aids in the Compost Bucket?

A good friend who wears hearing aids comes by once a month to have me cut his hair.  He takes the same seat at the kitchen table every time to talk first.  We do some catching up on family news and when it’s haircut time he takes his hearing aids out and lays them down on the table.  We move him to the middle of the kitchen and cut his hair.

Ken was in and out, setting up Beatles music because that came up in conversation too.  As talked, he started picking through the African violets on the table, pulling out the dead leaves.  He had a whole pile there on the table offering live leaves to our friend to grow and telling us how well they used to grow in his office. My cat wandered in and out.   It’s almost as much social time as it is haircut time.

When I was done, our friend sat down at the table to put his hearing aids in and no hearing aids, oh crap!  I immediately drop down to the floor to see if they had fallen off the table, instead I found a very hard piece of purple play dough left by my grandson a month ago. (Dang, how did I miss that?)  There were a few extra violet leaves that drifted to the floor too.  We check by the cat food, moved the chair and no hearing aids.  Ken said, “I put them on the napkin so they wouldn’t get lost” but there were obviously not there anymore.  I noticed the proximity of the napkin to the violets and think of the few leaves that fell on the floor. “Where did you put the African violet leaves,” I asked.

“No!  No I wouldn’t do that!  I put them on the napkin to keep them safe.”  Ken knows how much hearing aids cost so he’s panicking.  He started going through the trash and then over to the compost bucket.  Shifting through the leaves and cast off vegetable parts he found one hearing aid, then two.  Hearing aids are light weight and could easily be scooped up with the African violet leaves, feeling no different.

compost

Now, did they work?  We waited as our friend put in his hearing aids.  One hearing aid turned on however the other one didn’t.  There was a few more seconds of panic but it didn’t take long to figure out it was missing the battery.  Why would it be missing its battery Ken wanted to know.  Because that’s how we shut off our hearing aids, open the battery door.  “That’s silly.”  Maybe but that’s how it’s done.  What size was the battery?  Smaller than my hearing aid batteries so we let him go home without knowing if it would work.  I gave him a homemade dehumidifier to take home just in case.  (A small sour cream container with lots of those dry packets that come in clothes and other kinds of packaging.)  This morning I texted him asking him it worked and yes it does, yay!

dehumidifier

homemade dehumidifier

That’s proof how fast hearing aids can disappear.  I hear about kids getting a hold of hearing aids, dogs eating them but never heard another compost bucket story.  I learned a long time ago to always return my hearing aids to their protective box and put the box in the same place, which is in my purse.

I learned the lesson the hard way about 13 or so years ago when cell phones weren’t always compatible with hearing aids. I was in the car, my sister called, I put my hearing aid in my lap as I drove.  I forgot all about it when I checked my mail box and long strip of drive up mail boxes.  I didn’t notice I put away only one hearing aid that night either.  The next day I could only find one hearing aid and later that afternoon finally remembered everything…too late.  It had been run over probably half a dozen time at the mailboxes.  Ouch!  From now on, I’ll have a small container set out for our friend to put his hearing aids in when he comes for haircuts.

 

 

 

10 Things You Can Do for Tinnitus

Tinnitus is on my mind today and that’s because I’m off the grid, in the middle of nowhere at my parents house.  How quiet is it out here?  Many years ago after they finished building their house I came to visit.  We were on the porch, everyone talking and I kept hearing a noise.  It was indescribable and it drove me nuts not knowing what it was. I stopped the conversation finally to ask “What is that?”  And of course everything sounded normal to them so it took a bit to pin down the noise I wanted.  “There!  That noise,” I yelled when I heard it again.  My mom said,  “You mean hummingbirds?”  I was aghast.  I could not believe how loud they were.  At home I couldn’t hear them due to traffic or city noise so I guess I forgot what they sounded like.  


Today it’s early February so isn’t porch time yet. My parents aren’t listening to the radio as they normally would avoiding today’s political environment.  None of us watch TV much either so it’s quiet in the house too. I hear my tinnitus all too well.  My tinnitus sounds like cicadas, crickets and has a high pitched squeal 24 hours a day , 7 days a week.  Luckily I habituated years ago so it’s not driving me crazy but it is noticeable.  


Memories of tinnitus are drifting in and out.  I remember when tinnitus struck back in 1987 and I was told by the ENT to go home and learn to live with it.  He gave me no other suggestions nor information.  I couldn’t sleep and I was a zombie during for days at school.  Every night I laid awake hating the sudden invasion and wished I could just die.  Only with much determination did I make it through that time period and was able to push tinnitus to the side.

I didn’t think too much about my tinnitus for many years, it was there but in the background only.  Then working as a hard of hearing assistant, I was asked to edit a tinnitus presentation into a class.  I spent weeks organizing the information and researching tinnitus on the internet.  I hadn’t heard my tinnitus so well in years! I was so happy when I finished the project.

Once or twice a year I teach the class and it always throws me back to my early days when I suffered from it as I listen to others tell their story.  At least there’s more information available today thanks to the internet than what I had in 1987.  It’s wonderful of the state of Utah to offer this class to help others.  Together we talk about it and I always hope I helped them at least a little bit.  Today I thought I’d write up a list of things to help other people as well.


Tinnitus is most vicious at night because the world is quieter.  All we want is to sleep and it seems impossible with all that racket in our head.  We lay there awake..thinking about it, hating it, crying or pissed off.  It’s at the forefront of our thinking and it’s evil.  

Here’s some things you can do to help you sleep.  The trick is to take your mind away from your tinnitus and place it elsewhere.  If you find yourself focussing on your tinnitus, take the focus away to something else.

  1. Soft noise.  Turn on the fan. Get a fish tank that bubbles. Use soft music or the TV.  There’s small water features you can buy to keep on the nightstand. Get some environmental sounds to listen too. (I use an app on my phone called SleepStream 2 and I love it.  There is a fee.)
  2. Try something visual.  I know some people don’t like lights at night so experiment.  Try fiberoptic lights or something like a projection of the night sky on the ceiling.
  3. Some people claim aromatherapy distracts them from their tinnitus at night.  Find a soothing scent.
  4. Create a regular bed time habit and make it a comfortable routine.  Turn off the TV, read a bit, have a cup of tea.  Create a peaceful atmoshphere with light background noise. 
  5. Find your happy place.  Start creating a visual in your mind of your perfect place. Counting your blessings also works, not matter how small it starts, the list will get bigger.


During the day it’s a little easier to ignore tinnitus but in quiet places or at idle times it can sneak up on you.  Again, every time you catch yourself thinking about your tinnitus take it away to something else.

  1. Mindfulness works.  If you’re dusting furniture and the ringing is driving you nuts, focus instead on the dusting-the motion your hand makes, the smell of the furniture polish, the trails you make in the dust as you go.  
  2. Keep light noise in the background.  Don’t make it too loud because sometimes loud noise can make tinnitus work.  Use the radio, some music, the TV.
  3. Some people started a new hobby when tinnitus struck.  I remember a story of guy who took up running to ‘run away’ from his tinnitus.  He used it to work through his tinnitus and enjoyed it so much he became a marathon runner.  Have you always wanted to paint?  Take and art class.  Take a dance class or start attending a climbing gym.  Having something new to do will give you a new focus.
  4. Many hearing aids have a tinnitus program option.  Whenit’s quiet at the office, I’ll turn on my tinnitus program and I hear crashing waves in the background.  If someone comes in and starts talking to me, the waves fade away and I still hear environmental noise.
  5. Here’s your excuse to go get a message.  Tense shoulders leads to a tense neck and even a tight scalp.  It could be making your tinnitus worse.  It won’t take away your tinnitus but maybe you’ll feel more relaxed and able to deal with the tinnitus better.

These are practical tips.  I don’t know much about alternative therapies so I won’t get into that.  The American Tinnits Association (ATA) which talks about those therapies and you can explore them on your own.  The ATA has tons of good information on tinnitus and you can read the latest updates on studies too.

Some people have tinnitus triggers and spikes.  Mine is a lack of sleep and it will make my tinnitus scream!  I warn people it will be a bad hearing day on those days.  For other people it’s loud noises, over the counter meds, diet (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, salt) or smoking.  None of those things affect me but lack of sleep will.  It’s different for everyone.  

If you’re feeling suicidal because of tinnitus, please reach out for help.  I know someone who was and sought help and successfully habituated tinnitus.  You can move beyond it!

Gestures

thumbs-up

I teach a speechreading class at different senior centers through my work with the state. Every time I teach the class I learn a thing or two. It might be lip shapes of certain letters clicking in my brain at long last. It might be something I need to work on such as saying ‘zero’ instead of ‘oh’ when working with numbers. In life outside the classroom it was rephrasing which I brought back to my students. This last fall I learned how much gestures aid communication.

It’s a lesson in our book which I helped edit a year or so ago. The lesson is in there but I hadn’t given it credit until I watched my seniors struggle to learn lipreading. The more we relax, the easier lipreading gets but my students weren’t able to relax. They stared intently, not able to pick up the words in ‘lip speak’ (no voice). With the younger crowd I taught everyone the ASL alphabet and we used finger spelling for hints but my seniors weren’t picking up that up either. I sensed frustration so I encouraged them to use gestures if they saw the puzzled looks.

At first they felt awkward, but after a few lessons of using gestures they became more comfortable with the idea. Then they started picking up the words faster, so fast I was amazed. Soon it became common practice with us and it introduced laughter. What happens when a speechreading class becomes fun? They relax. We still focus on the lips but gestures are now a habit for us.

My husband didn’t want to learn sign so much, although he learned the ASL alphabet to help me with words and names I was stuck on which was valuable to our communication. (Thank you Ken!) All along Ken also used gestures when I was stuck. I laugh at his creativity but it works! And if I laugh the strain on my end disappears. I hadn’t given his gestures proper credit before teaching my class last fall and now I value it. I encourage it in all my classes and will be including it in my presentations too.

This takes me back to my first HLAA convention in Rhode Island. I went to lunch with several women. One used sign as she talked. Another used a PockeTalker pointing a microphone at whoever was talking without fear. Another lady had a hearing dog beside her. Facial expressions seemed more animated and I remember a few gestures thrown in too. At the end of the lunch, one of them told me something like, “Use everything, why not? If it helps, do it.” That lunch in 2012 left a big impression on me. (Thanks Nini!)

Communication is easier with gestures.  Let’s all get animated in our conversations and encourage those in our life to use them as well. Perhaps if we use them ourselves others might too. People pick that kind of thing up uncousciously, plus it’s fun! Gestures are helpful in communicating with the hard of hearing, it deserves more credit.

The Steps to Coping with Hearing Loss

presentation

Part of my job is going to senior centers; to teach a speechreading class, have a table at their health fair or give presentations. Recently a senior center requested a presentation on coping strategies for hearing loss, mostly because the program director herself has a hearing loss and isn’t sure what to do. The idea rolled around in my head for about a week before I could put it to paper. There are the obvious coping strategies;

  1. Face me when you talk. Mostly I tell people “I lipread” these days which usually works great for me.
  2. Get my attention before talking. If this would be done each time, there would be a lot less repeats. Just because I’m in the same room doesn’t mean I’m going to hear you because I need to see your face first to hear.
  3. If after one repeat I still don’t understand then rephrase or add gestures. Gestures can be a huge help.
  4. No talking from other rooms. If someone wants to start a conversation that person, hard of hearing or not, will go to the other person to talk.

talking

Those four little rules will benefit a hard of hearing person a great deal. I added a couple more that aren’t as obvious.

  1. Think ahead. What will you need to hear better and enjoy in certain socializing situations? Will it be taking a friend who can help you hear? Or taking another hard of hearing person who understands? Will you need an FM system and get permission to hook it up to the microphone that will be used? Show up early to get the front seat? Taking your living room loop to the Super Bowl party? Captions? etc.
  2. Take a class geared toward hearing loss. Find a lipreading class or an ASL class. Attend any workshop you can that has to do with hearing loss. HLAA has free webinars monthly, check them out too.
  3. Join a support group. The SayWhatClub is a great resource for anyone who has access online. They have email lists and Facebook groups, choose the method you like best and join. Why? They are instant support for the bad times, good for ranting about the hearing world but mostly for the friendship and role models you’ll find. It’s finding your tribe of people. Then see if there’s a local HLAA or ALDA chapter near you because being with others who have hearing loss makes you feel good. Go to as many hearing loss conventions as you can for more friendships!

plan-ahead

I am including in my presentation 3 more items that aren’t commonly considered coping strategies as far as I know but I believe they are the basis for everything I listed above.

Get out of the closet, quit hiding your hearing loss. Get it out in the open and start telling people you have a hearing loss. Before we come out of the closet we use bad coping strategies; faking it, bluffing, talking so we don’t have to hear and the deaf nod. This may cause hearing people to think, “She’s losing it. That answer is off the wall.” And, “She’s kind of slow, she doesn’t talk much.” Then there’s the snobby conclusion, “She’s really stuck up. She didn’t stop to talk to me when I called out to her.” A good coping strategy is being upfront about hearing loss and your needs. It’s freeing to let it all out and later on you’ll realize hiding it was a lot more work. Wouldn’t you rather people know it was your broken ears, not a damaged brain? It’s hearing loss, she didn’t hear me instead of being stuck up and unfriendly. Doing this will open a new line of communication with others.

upfront

Educate yourself about hearing loss. Without knowing exactly how your hearing loss works, you can’t describe it to others and they won’t understand our needs as well. Do you have a regular ski slope hearing loss? A reverse slope? A cookie bite? Conductive? Mixed? What exactly does having that hearing loss mean to you when it comes to speech, has an audiologist ever told you? Do you need volume? Less volume, more clarity? Do you hear a man’s voices better or a woman’s? The more you know about your hearing loss the more you can address your needs specifically.

If you wear hearing aids or CI’s, how much do you know about them? What are their benefits and limitations? Do you know all the programs they offer? (Background noise, tinnitus relief, telecoil, Bluetooth, etc.) Find books on hearing loss and read all you can.

After that, learn all you can about assistive listening devices. Browse websites, order free catalogs and ask people who attend hearing loss support groups (they are the best resource). Ask for assistive listening devices in theaters, at the movies, at sporting events at church and anywhere you go. Do they have volume control headphones or captioning devices? Which ones benefit you most? Ask because while you’re asking you’re also educating other people about hearing loss.

Stick up for yourself. Stop worrying about burdening other people. Communication is a two way street. It’s up to us to advocate for ourselves and the people in our lives should be able to meet us halfway. My part is paying attention. If I’m stuck on a word and I’m doing my best there should never, ever be an eye roll, a “never mind” or “I SAID…” If you’ve done your job learning about hearing loss, then you’re armed with knowledge, let them have it! I recommend trying to be nice about it. There’s assertive and then there’s aggressive. No one likes being yelled at. Remember communication habits are hard to break (start now!) so have patience but be consistent. There are times when getting mad makes the point but use is sparingly. I made a good impression on my family after getting a “never mind” once too often by hitting the roof. They never said it again. I’m not proud when I lose it, even when it works.

stick-up-for-yourselfThese are steps to success with hearing loss.  There will still be pitfalls, tears and possible tantrums but there will be less of them.  Plus these steps help end the isolation many feel that comes with hearing loss.

Accents & Hearing Loss

My husband and I took a belated honeymoon/anniversary trip to Costa Rica a few weeks ago.  I decided to go minimal knowing we’d be moving to a different part of the country every few days.  I left my usual purse at home, using a super small, flat purse to carry only a few essentials.  Knowing it was going to rain every day and be super humid, I decided to leave my hearing aids at home.

I know some of you out there are gasping at the thought of leaving hearing aids behind.  Hearing aids are just too expensive to lose and I didn’t want to chance it.  I’m fairly comfortable not wearing hearing aids here at home but I’ll admit, I was a little worried about how I’d hear English with accents there.  Lucky for me I was going with a hearing person. Still I didn’t want to lean on him too much, I was sure I’d find ways to communicate as needed.

Our first driver spoke very little English.  I was super tired after flying all night in a tin can, packed tightly together.  Airline seats don’t go back far enough to sleep without pecking corn (my head falling forward again and again as I tried to sleep).  When I’m that tired, I can’t hear at home either so I only knew our driver was talking but understood very little of what he said.  Ken said he couldn’t really understand him either.  I fell asleep in the van which was more comfortable than the plane believe it or not.  We stopped for a picture at one point and when I had a hard time understanding him, he resorted to gesturing.  Perfect!  Gesturing is universal.

We went to a restaurant and the menu was in both Spanish and English. I thought I’d try the Spanish words since I was in their country.  “I’ll get the hamburguesa atun.”  He looked down at me and said, “You want the tuna sandwich.”  I almost laughed out loud.  I think he meant “Don’t massacre my language.”  I didn’t try ordering in Spanish again sticking to English.

We stayed in three different towns in different parts of the country.  We stayed in Manuel Antonio the first few nights which mostly resting up from our plane ride over.  Then went to la Fortuna the next couple of nights where three activities were planned; the hot springs at Tabacon, a trip to the Arenal volcano and the Fortuna waterfall.  We had an English-speaking guide for the volcano and waterfall, he was very good about facing me.  He was a biology student so he and Ken got along well, he even convinced Ken to eat a few termites…no I didn’t even try.  Ken said it was ‘woodsy flavored.’

Over the course of the trip I realized the same rules apply abroad as they do in the states.

  1. If having a hard time, I told them I couldn’t hear well.
  2. I told them I use lipreading.
  3. If I could relax, I could hear/lipread them, especially after spending more time with them.

My favorite hard of hearing moment  of the trip was while we were Tamarindo and went out on a catamaran for snorkeling.  I’m not one to jump in the ocean so I stayed on the boat while the others splashed around.  I was happy with mojitos, the view, the sun at least and getting to know some of the crew who were super accommodating. I was sitting at the back of the boat relaxing and one of crew members sat down next to me.  He said, “I know you don’t hear well and that you are learning my lips…”

And I thought perfect, yes!  I’m always learning people’s lips.  I’m learning their lips, the words they use, their facial expressions and their accents.  I was certainly learning his lips.  To continue…

“…and you’re learning my lips but I don’t know how you understand me so well.”

Well… I grew up near the Mexican border in California so maybe Spanish accents are a little easier than I thought they would be?  That’s what I told him but after more thinking maybe it’s a combination of things.  Maybe I spent enough time with him?  Or was it that he made sure he faced me?  Maybe some people are easier to lip read accent or no accent no matter what.

I had a grand time and I would not hesitate traveling in other countries.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Travel forth my hearing loss friends!

costa-rica-boat

My friend on the boat.

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Me on the boat.

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A restaurant in Manuel Antonio.  The tourists loved the monkeys and the locals thought of them as pests.

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Hot spring bliss.

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Fortuna waterfall

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Melwin was another person who was easy for me to understand.

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In the jungle leading up to the Arenal volcano. Andrey was easy to understand as well.