Lip Service

......To Help Deaf People Understand Conversation With Accuracy and the Minimum of Strain

This page is not about empty statements and false promises, which the title might lead one to believe, rather it is concerned with the co-operation needed by deaf persons from those who speak to them, if they are to understand conversation with accuracy, and the minimum of strain. Any person who is willing to give such co-operation by practising the following points will not only make conversation easier for deaf persons, but also for himself

Please avoid shouting at deaf persons wherever possible. Shouting contorts the face of the speaker to the embarrassment of the listener, and makes the conversation unnatural and strained. Speech is usually best heard when it is given in a clear voice just slightly louder than normal.

Clarity rather than volume is often the main requirement when speaking

Many deaf persons have some ability to lip-read, even without going to lip-reading classes. Some hard of hearing persons even practise this skill without realising it. They feel that they can hear a speaker better when he is facing them. In actual fact, they probably do not hear better, but are likely to understand more accurately because what they only partially hear is assisted by what they also see in the speaker's expressions and lip-movements.

A deaf person can, therefore, understand conversation best if he can both listen and lip-read

For good lip-reading adequate light is essential. If the speaker sits facing the light from the window or a lamp so that his own face is illuminated, this makes lip-reading easier for the deaf person. Unless the deaf person's sight is very poor, the speaker will be understood better five or six feet away from the lip-reader rather than only two or three feet away. It is obviously much easier to lip-read also if the speaker is not turning his head, or moving about the room whilst speaking. If the deaf person is only being addressed intermittently between doing other things, then his attention could be attracted by calling his name or by prefacing remarks with an opening word or gesture before the sentence is commenced.

Addressing a deaf person when the speaker has not attracted his attention first is liable to lead to misunderstanding and frustration

Lip-movements need to be clear, but not exaggerated. If words are spoken more slowly than normal, this is helpful. Normal rhythmic speech is preferable to stilted or staccato speech, and sentences are easier to lip-read than isolated words.

Sometimes a sentence will not be understood by the deaf person even when it has been repeated. In such instances the message can sometimes be got across by using different words to convey it.

Conversation will be easier if the speaker speaks clearly with a normal rhythm, but a little slower than usual

To summarise -- a deaf person is most likely to understand when the speaker faces him, and speaks in a clear voice, slightly slower than usual but with normal rhythm, so that the deaf person can both hear and see the speaker.

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