People who can’t hear well at meetings tend to avoid them. This means their voices are left out of focus groups and community consultations. Consequently, hearing issues are not heard or catered for (excuse pun). It also means they don’t go to group events at restaurants or even family gatherings because it gets frustrating and also tiring when trying to concentrate on listening all the time. Ideas for Ears in the UK is actively advocating for people with hearing loss and has developed the Hearing Access Protocol for meetings and events. it provides guidance on how to run meetings and events so people with any hearing ability can hear and follow them. The Protocol was developed by people with hearing loss. You can download the PDF version of the Protocol. People with hearing loss should be able to participate in civic events and activities on the same basis as others.
How much of what a person says can a lip reader understand? What if they have a heavy accent because your language is not their first language – does that make a difference? Tina Lannin is an expert lip reader and in her article she explains the ins and outs of lip reading. She claims it is possible to understand all that is said but much depends on context. As for foreigners, it is not the accent that matters but the clarity of the speech. And of course, you can’t lip read words that you don’t know, so having a good vocabulary is essential for lip reading. Tina also works as an expert witness forensic lip reader. We can all help lip readers by facing them, not mumbling to our shoes, and speaking as we would to anyone else. And also making sure the faces of conference speakers are well lit. The article is titled, Can a deaf person read lips from a foreigner that speaks that person’s language?
See also the four excellent posters that link to lip reading and people who are hard of hearing.