On October 3rd, 2019, audiologists and various community members from St. John’s and surrounding areas gathered at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market for the Official Launch of Read Our Lips.
Improving Communication Across the Globe
Read Our Lips, an online course that teaches adults key lipreading skills, was in creation for over a year (since the summer of 2018) at the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL). Staff at the CHHA-NL through their own experiences and working with clients understand the value of learning to lipread. Trained staff members have been teaching in-person lipreading classes at the Association since 1982, but despite how popular in-person classes are, there are certain limitations, for instance only those within a specific geographic region can attend, and only 10-12 people can attend a class at once.
Read Our Lips allows adults across the province, the country, and the world to have access to an online course that can help improve communication skills.
Executive Director Supports Read Our Lips
At the Official Launch, Leon Mills, Executive Director of the CHHA-NL, announced that Read Our Lips will operate as a social enterprise. Proceeds from the course will help support and keep most of CHHA-NL’s community programs and services free of charge.
Mills explained that many people believe that technology like hearing aids and cochlear implants fix hearing loss, but in fact that’s not the case for most. As someone living with hearing loss, Mills understands that in reality hearing technology isn’t perfect. Background noise, distance from the speaker, room lighting, and so many other factors play a role in how well a person can hear.
“We believe that the Read Our Lips online course will be another important tool to help people with hearing loss to understand more speech, have better comprehension, improve their self-confidence, and ability to communicate with confidence.” – Leon Mills, Executive Director of CHHA-NL
Hearing Loss is Everywhere
Alison Butler, Coordinator of Education and Awareness, explained to attendees that when speech starts to sound unclear many people struggle with communication. In fact, 1 in 5 Canadians experience hearing challenges and that number increases with age. The Read our Lips course is built to aid in communication for those experiencing hearing challenges by teaching how to identify and watch for important speech movements of the mouth (lips, jaws, teeth, and tongue).
Butler believes communication is essential for involvement in ones’ community because receiving and responding to information is how people form relationships. When someone’s quality of hearing decreases, it often leads to a lower quality of communication.
“Read Our Lips is about removing isolation
Read Our Lips is about inclusion
Read Our Lips is about empowerment”
Read Our Lips Is For Everyone
The Read Our Lips course was developed particularly for those with hearing loss, but is available to anyone interested in learning how to lipread. Butler listed the following groups of people that she believes could potentially benefit from learning how to lipread:
- those with existing hearing loss (diagnosed or undiagnosed)
- anyone with a genetic or hereditary link to hearing loss
- those ages 50 and up
- those who are at increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss (anyone who works, or who has worked in a noisy environment or who participates in loud recreational activities)
- family members and friends of those with hearing loss
- professionals working with adults
Thanks to Supporters
The CHHA-NL is pleased to say the Official Launch of Read Our Lips was a success. Lots of positive feedback has made its way back to the Association and many people have signed up for the course. Since the launch, Read Our Lips has been featured on The Telegram, VOCM, Guide to the Good, and Out of the Fog (Rogers TV).
The CHHA-NL would like to thank everyone that attended the official Read Our Lips launch including representatives from: Metro Business Opportunities, DC Design House, Maico Hearing Service, Parrott’s Hearing Clinic, the Community Sector Council NL, the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate, NL Credit Union, Eastern Health, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Safety Services NL, Guide to the Good, and many more.
More Pictures from the Official Launch of Read Our Lips