A Keyworth woman who’s had hearing loss her whole life is on a mission to help others – as Nottinghamshire’s only qualified and practising lipreading tutor.
Helen Barrow, from Keyworth, has set up her business Lipreading.me.uk, to teach lipreading skills to others, help them manage their hearing loss, and to raise awareness of the issue.
Around one in six people have a reduced ability to hear. That’s 12 million people in the UK, and around 50,000 in Nottinghamshire alone.
56-year-old Helen has always had chronic glue ear, which means that her ability to hear fluctuates and is often severely compromised. She said: “Having struggled with hearing loss all my life, I know only too well how every day can be more challenging as a result.
“I’ve personally experienced how helpful lipreading it can be in conversations with people who can hear. I want to help others communicate – for a better, happier, and more fulfilled life.”
Lipreading enables people with hearing loss to make sense of what others are saying, by identifying and understanding visual clues – movements of the mouth, teeth and tongue, facial expressions, body language and gestures.
Helen is providing group and one-to-one and group classes for adults of all ages, including older people with age-related deafness. She also offers workshops and speaking engagements for businesses and other organisations on how to be more hearing loss friendly.
Details can be found on her website, www.lipreading.me.uk. Classes are currently online because of Covid-19, with face-to-face sessions to be introduced when circumstances allow.
Helen began learning to lipread in 2011, has trained as a tutor over the past year, and is now a fully qualified member of the Association of Lipreading Teachers to Adults.
She’s also had a successful career in IT and is a qualified lecturer, having taught A Level Computing and other courses at local colleges and community organisations.
Helen added: “I’ve learnt that at work, hearing loss means you miss out on the office banter, which can leave you feeling a bit isolated. As a lipreading tutor and experienced teacher, I believe I can help people navigate their way more easily through our noisy world.”