UK charity Action on Hearing Loss is calling on the Government to deliver an integrated approach to ensure people with diagnosed hearing loss across England have better access to classes teaching lipreading, a vital communication skill which improves the overall management of hearing loss, reduces social isolation, and helps people to manage better during work meetings.
The charity’s call follows research for its new ‘Not Just Lip Service’ report which found people who completed a one-year lipreading course at City Lit, an adult education centre in London, improved their lipreading capability by an average of 47%, with one class member improving their performance by 100%!
Action on Hearing Loss wants the Government to now recognise the importance of lipreading in complementing interventions, such as hearing aids, in helping people adjust to and manage their hearing loss. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is responsible for the funding of around 390 lipreading classes in England but, as there is an estimated 10 million people in the UK with hearing loss, the charity is urging BIS to lead a cross-departmental review with the Department for Health to identify how the provision of lipreading classes can be improved and best supported.
Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss, Paul Breckell, said: “Our new research clearly shows, for the first time, that the difficult to learn skill of lipreading can greatly improve the capability of people with hearing loss to follow conversations with friends, family and colleagues. Lipreading has enormous life-changing benefits for many people who are deaf or hard of hearing by preventing social isolation, increasing confidence and helping people to stay in work.
“The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has a vital role in ensuring that people with hearing loss can access this vital support and we believe that it’s time for a new, co-ordinated approach by BIS and the Department for Health to help drive forward much better access of lipreading classes for people who are deaf or hard of hearing in every community across the country.”
To read the ‘Not Just Lip Service’ report, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/lipreading.