There are many modes of communication for deaf and hard of hearing people. Here are two examples of skills you can learn to help you better communicate!
Lipreading involves a combination of skills to help you fill in gaps in understanding when you haven’t heard what’s been said. By learning which letters and sounds make which mouth-shapes, you can start to gather more information from the person speaking to you – beyond what you can hear.
Learning to lipread can help improve your communication skills, enabling you to stay connected with people and avoid becoming isolated. You can learn online, but don’t forget, if you attend a class, you will also meet other people with hearing loss, which is an added bonus!
Fingerspelling is a method of representing letters by using hand-shapes. In the USA, American Sign Language (ASL), uses a one-handed alphabet; whereas in the UK, British Sign Language (BSL), uses a two-handed alphabet.
In sign language, fingerspelling is used to spell out names for which there is no sign, such as people’s names.
Fingerspelling may also be used alongside lipreading to show the first letter of a word. This is particularly useful when trying to read a word with an ambiguous mouth-shape, such as ‘mill’, ‘pill’, or ‘bill’. Ask your closest relatives and friends to learn to fingerspell with you.
If you don’t sign, fingerspelling can be used as a way of communicating with someone who relies on ASL or BSL.
If friends and relatives can fingerspell, they can help when you’re struggling to catch a difficult word, such as a name. Just letting someone know the first letter of a word can aid understanding considerably.
For example, I taught my husband to fingerspell so that he could help me with the names of places, people and people’s dogs. When we’re out walking our dog, other dog-walkers often strike up conversation with us. Richard uses fingerspelling to let me know the first letter of names such as ‘Milly’ or ‘Billy’. That way I don’t offend the owners by getting their dog’s gender wrong!
“I taught my husband to fingerspell so that he could help me with the names of places, people and people’s dogs.”
Learning finger spelling is also a great start to a journey of learning sign language.
Read more: Why I am learning sign language as an “oral” profoundly deaf(ie)
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