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New wave of lipreading ‘lifeline’ tutors
A new course to train more lipreading tutors and provide wider access to crucial communication support for people with a hearing loss has begun.
14 students are among the first wave of lipreading tutors who will complete a nine month course run by the Scottish Course to Train Tutors of Lipreading.
Lipreading classes provide essential skills and support for those experiencing hearing loss. They are an opportunity to meet with other people in the same position, share experiences and learn about services and equipment available.
It is estimated that 850,000 people in Scotland are affected by some degree of hearing loss.
The course was established as part of a £200,000 investment for a Scottish Government led working group to improve access to lipreading and will form part of the upcoming sensory impairment strategy.
Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson said:
“The ability to lipread is a key step in enabling someone with hearing loss to be an active member of they community and lead a full and independent life.
“The course is not just about learning the skills of lipreading. People diagnosed with a hearing loss can become very isolated and by attending lipreading classes they can get valuable support, advice and companionship.
“It is clear to me that these services must continue to develop so I am delighted that there is already a high demand for a place on the next course. Through our forthcoming sensory impairment strategy we hope to improve services and the lives of people with a sensory impairment across the country.”
Bertha Walker, 54, who began to lose her hearing at the age of 30, is taking part in the course.
Talking about when she first attended a lipreading class 15 years ago Bertha said:
“Lipreading classes were a complete lifeline for me because I could not hear very well and I was struggling in many situations, so I got to meet others who were experiencing the same problems that I was.
“I always felt like I was missing things. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with bits missing.
“I wondered if people at work thought I was not concentrating or I was stupid because I’d ask them to repeat themselves and I wouldn’t talk in meetings in case I was saying things someone else had already raised.
“Socially it was awful. I felt isolated and lonely as I found it very difficult or impossible to join in. The result was that my confidence plummeted.
"So for me it was more than the lipreading. It gave me back my confidence and changed my life. It made me more aware of solutions that I and others could put into place. This interest led me to become a freelance deaf awareness trainer.”
Bertha already has plans to put her new skills to use.
"I am delighted that hopefully I will be in a position to deliver lipreading training.
“The course is teaching me how to help others to address the very same communication difficulties I have faced in my life.
"It is about understanding how to read people and how to communicate effectively.”
The next course will begin in September 2013
Anyone interested in applying for the course should contact Catriona Crosby, the Course Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Scottish Government will seek views and comments on its draft sensory impairment strategy later this winter.