I’ve been to 3 classes but missed the last two due to traveling. I’ve been meaning to write but I have been on the run lately. As I write this, I am in Montana visiting a friend who is also hard of hearing but that is another post. I have some time to write this morning and I want to share the speech reading class.
Speech reading class is welcoming and friendly. All of us there are hard of hearing and struggling to communicate in the real world. We are looking for any little bit of help we can get. Our teacher, my friend Kathy, is great about talking just a little bit slower than most people and enunciating her words which makes it easy on us. She is easy to follow.
So far, we have about 3 letters each week that we work on. The first week was the letter P, M and B which all look similar on the lips. Those 3 letters are coined as “sealers” or “lips together.” P has no voice, B has a voice and M is nasal. We practiced words with these letters at the beginning of a word, then the middle of the word and at the end of a word. All of us take turns saying a word out loud a couple of times and then with our voice off. Six of us stare intently at the one saying the word straining to catch the letter and see if we can differentiate between them. We have found some people are naturally easier than others to speech read.
After that, we go through some every day quotes with the lesson’s letters in them. First we read through the sheet of quotes (because a lot of lip reading is anticipation) and then we take turns saying them with our voice off to see if the others will get it. Some examples for P, M, and B are, “Wait a moment for me,” and “Good morning.” Sometimes it’s a struggle and other times I get it right off the bat.
The class session ends usually with us asking each other for help in certain situations or sharing coping strategies. After the class, a few people stay to ask Kathy questions about cochlear implants and such. Even though I don’t stay for that part (I know a lot about CI’s already), I see how much the others, who are mostly new to the Sanderson Center, eat up all the information they can get. Everyone of us there are grateful for the help the center, and Kathy, provide.
Practicing speech reading is easy, no practice partner is needed. All that is needed is a mirror. I can turn on the TV and turn off the volume (and captions) and lip read the people searching for those letters I have learned over the week. Or practice on anyone I run across during the week such as the grocery store clerk or bank teller. The hardest part of me is taking my attention off the whole word and focusing on just a letter but it makes sense to do that first.