Monday, October 14, 2019

Read Our Lips

On October 3rd, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL) launched a brand new self-paced online learning course called Read Our Lips.

Read Our Lips is an innovative social enterprise that will contribute to the programs and services of the CHHA-NL. Read Our Lips is the first of its kind in Canada and consists of online lessons that teach adults how to lipread by learning to identify and watch for important movements of the mouth, including the lips, jaws, teeth, and tongue. This technique is an important part of overall speech reading. The full Read Our Lips online course has been created and produced in Newfoundland and Labrador and will be sold online throughout North America, and the world. It is affordable and available to anyone with access to a high-speed internet connection and a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Leon Mills, Executive Director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Newfoundland and Labrador, says:  

"Many people believe that technology like hearing aids and cochlear implants fix hearing loss, and while such technology is indeed a great help, the reality for many of us who live with hearing loss (which is about 1 in 5 of the adult population in Canada) is much different. Background noise, distance from the speaker, room lighting, and so many other factors play a role in how well someone can hear. 

Combined with an individual’s existing hearing ability and technology, lipreading, an important part of overall speechreading skills, can significantly improve an individual’s ability to communicate and, most importantly, to understand someone’s speech. 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."

My dear friend, Alison Butler is the Coordinator of Education and Awareness for CHHA-NL, and she has been highly involved with the creation of this program. (You will see Alison in many of the videos connected to this course!) Alison was excited to announce the launch of Read Our Lips, and she did an awesome job of describing the course.

Alison says, "Many individuals don't recognize the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and for many who develop hearing loss later in life, the process is so gradual that they may not even realize or notice their challenges for years."

Alison also explained that hearing loss is widely misunderstood by the public at large. It is not always an issue of not being able to hear sound, but it is more often about the clarity of sound or not being able to hear clearly. When speech starts to sound unclear, many people struggle with communication, but don't necessarily recognize these symptoms as hearing loss."

Hearing loss occurs gradually in most of us as we grow older, and so it is likely that we will all experience hearing challenges at some time. The alarming truth is that Newfoundland and Labrador has the fastest-aging population in the country, and we are going to have to find ways to support our seniors in living as healthy and as independently as possible. Heck, we are going to BE those seniors. Time does not slow down, and we are all getting older. I constantly lament over how fast the days go by, how big my son is, how quickly things change. The world has a way of unforgivingly reminding us all of how old we are getting, so why don't we do something to help us age gracefully - to improve our chances of aging together in a healthy way.

Health Canada defines healthy aging as "a lifelong process of optimizing opportunities for improving and preserving health and physical, social and mental wellness, independence, quality of life and enhancing successful life-course transitions."  

Making the most of our health is key to positive aging, and I am all for that. All people have the ability to live well, in spite of their limitations. For individuals with hearing loss, the ability to lipread makes a tremendous difference in the quality of conversation and helps people feel connected. Read Our Lips is going to improve communication and connection for thousands of people. I truly believe that this is a course we all should take.

If you are interested in learning more about lipreading or the online course, visit to access a free course introduction and lesson preview.