As I have mentioned before, I was hoping to begin lip-reading classes in the new year…well I did just that today!
I am quite a nervous person and I was really nervous about starting a new class, with new people and focusing on communication methods was kind of daunting.
Traffic was slow so unfortunately; we arrived a few minutes late. The woman who was conducting the session, was really lovely and welcomed us in.
I did feel bad to begin with as I was the only member with sight issues as well as hearing difficulties. Not because of that but because everyone else had to rearrange their seats and the teacher had to move the board so it was closer to me.
Sadly, I still couldn’t see her writing.
As she began talking to the class, I struggled to understand what she was saying. I started to feel defeated, thinking maybe this is more difficult than I thought it would be.
I thought, ‘Nope, you’re here, you will give it a go, there has to be a way of communicating, that best suits me, I’ve just got to find it.’
The teacher wanted to break the ice and make us feel at ease so we all completed a quiz. It did get the group talking and there were a few laughs. Mum and I had a laugh while completing it too.
I failed the quiz though!
The teacher sat at an angle where everybody could see her. She spoke to each member, who was deaf, repeating the sentence up to 4 times.
Still no luck, due to central vision loss I am unable to read people’s lips unless they are directly in front of me. Mum asked, ‘Can you understand what the lady is saying? I shook my head… my feelings of defeat were rising.
As she continued talking, I thought ‘Maybe one-to-one sessions would be better.’
The class broke off for a break and Mum looked at me and said, ‘Do you think…?’ Before she finished her sentence, I replied, ‘One-to-one sessions?’ Mum nodded; I have always loved that how we know what each other is thinking and sometimes finish each other’s sentences.
Mum pulled the teacher to one side (not literally) and said how I was struggling. They discussed it for a few moments and suggested that I should use my assistive tablet – to be honest I was sceptical of using it in a class as the microphone only picks up what someone is saying if they are speaking directly to it.
I mentioned my concern and the teacher suggested that I could sit closer to her so my tablet would pick her voice up better. I gratefully agreed. She said directly to me that I should come along to the next session to see if the new method is any better, if not then the class is not best suited for me.
Falling at the first hurdle…
She began talking to the class again and my tablet was picking up nearly everything she was saying, however I tried to keep up to the speed she was talking but it was just too fast.
I didn’t want to ask for anymore help as I felt like I had already asked for too much.
I noticed one of the members had someone with her who was a sign language translator. I don’t know much sign language but I would love to learn more. I just watched them, in awe, communicating with one another. It was lovely and something I wish I could do.
At the end of the session, I had mixed feelings. On one hand I did feel that the session only emphasised how difficult it is to communicate with me which made me feel hopeless. On the other hand, I learned that maybe sign language would be better for me.
I wouldn’t have known this if I had not gone to the session so I am glad I went.