Just plain tired ….. YAWN!

5 04 2008


I wonder how many people realise how tiring it is to not be able to hear properly? Most days I am so totally zonked when I get home from work that I’m quite happy to shut the door on my social life and veg out in front of the TV laptop. Plus, I’m blitzed all weekend too.

I point the finger of blame at the high level of concentration needed to lipread a variety of people all day. I’m lucky I get paid to talk to people all day, I love it, but it certainly takes its toll. I don’t think people realise how difficult lipreading actually is. They just see me ‘getting it’. When I’m on a course or in meetings, the interpreter always gets breaks, but I don’t – I’m even concentrating on lipreading during the ‘coffee break’. It’s exhausting.

So what makes lipreading tricky? Lots of things. The main problem is poor lip patterns, where someone doesn’t speak very clearly and hardly moves their lips. Total nightmare to lipread. Close to that, is lack of facial expression. Next on my list is dark glasses or sunglasses. For some reason, if someone’s eyes are obscured, this makes lipreading very difficult. I prefer to call it speech-reading or face-reading, because I really look at the whole face and look for lots of clues, I don’t just look at the lip patterns. I look at the facial expression of the speaker and bear in mind the context of the conversation. What also makes lipreading difficult is excessive facial hair, wonky teeth, a stammer, a lisp, and varying accents.

If someone speaks too quickly, or too quietly, that makes lipreading really hard. That doesn’t mean to say, you can speak to me as if I’m five or I’m stupid, because I can tell! and it will just get my back up no end. And my back is pretty spiky when it’s up. People who eat at the same time as they are speaking are just rude, and this is tricky to lipread. If you are smoking or chewing a pen, how am I supposed to decode your lip patterns? Very bright light and poor light are also contributing factors. Some people are much easier to lipread than others, and factors like ethnicity, accent and whether English is the speaker’s first language will affect their lip patterns greatly. Plus, only about only 40% of speech sounds are visible!

I’ve got a little residual hearing and really try to make the most of it, I try to hear what I can. Since I’ve always done this, I rely on listening to what I CAN hear, to help me fill in the jigsaw puzzle of running speech. Any background noise then makes lipreading terribly difficult and I get extremely irritated. The extra concentration makes me tire more quickly as well. So, I’m not a huge fan of noisy pubs and shops.

When I’m tired, I mean, really REALLY tired, someone can speak to me and it will sound like baby talk, and I can’t make sense of it. That’s because that’s what I hear, and I’m just too exhausted to make sense of what I’m lipreading, and put the two together, sounds and visual lip patterns. It comes out as Gobbledigook – which I’m quite proficient in!

I found a test for tiredness created by scientists at the Wellcome Collection and took it at lunchtime the other day. A good score is a reaction time of 220 milliseconds and a reaction time of 300 milliseconds means you’re very tired. I scored about 350….




10 responses

6 04 2008

Boy! I can relate to how you feel after a day of lipreading! It is exhausting because of so many variables, speakers’ voices, accents or dialects, facial hair or zip lip movement, facial expression or none, environment, job or class or social event, w/ interpreter or no terp, the list goes on.

I’ve found that I have to make my evenings free–and I do mean, free from any engagements or appointments, to give myself my OWN time to rest.

6 04 2008

It’s the price we pay isn’t it ? because we ant out there… we could I suppos eeasily adopt the sign thing and change our social aspect, get terp stop or reduce hearing interactions, but we choose not to. I confess to having a real and bad headache after a day out, the level of concentration is enormous,and as you get older much much harder too….. My old LR Teacher said 1 HOUR is the max you can lip-read non-stop effectively, that is, if you are good, then rapid deteriration or cut off happens, it can be murdeer if you have a full time job which is 6-8 hours a day, that’s what being deaf is…… You have to mentally fight off those in deaf culture who say..why bother, sign instead… the price can be too high to pay….. UNless when you are deaf you gostraight into the defa scene and stay there, you won’t get accepted anyway, and I’ve had 6 hours of sign a day at times and that drains me too… I have been known to say shut up, that’s it, conversation over, I need a break !

6 04 2008

well like most I can relate to that, I find it very tiring and to be honest in awe of people who can last a whole day of it, I find my brain switches off after a couple of hours and then I find it impossible to take anything in.
then I am often found pottering around in my garden with my aids off, peace and quiet, blisss

7 04 2008

MM – why are you mentally fighting Deaf people? – that sounds more exhausting than lipreading!

I only find lipreading tiring if I am with people who are difficult to lipread or don’t make any effort to include me within a conversation….or just plain boring. But if I am engaged and stimulated by the conversation or by what is being said then I can happily lipread all day….

However, these days my social life pretty much revolves around others who can sign….I haven’t ‘given in’ as MM would put it but in fact just enjoying the greater ease in communication that using BSL gives.

7 04 2008

Smarty – how long did it take you to become proficient in BSL?

7 04 2008

Its taken years to be able to sign at a decent level.

But it doesnt take long before it becomes an advantage to have it…particularly when communicating with oral deaf people or SSE users….

8 04 2008

Smarty my background is hearing during formative years, I am a fighter, I am trying to stand my ground with the lifestyle I knew, why abdicate to a different one that is not going to accept me anyway ? and one I am not comfortable with while I can still function to a degree with my old one ? I know it is very easy to drop out, that’s for hippies ! I can make myself understood via sign, it’s just something I taught myself, because I have a signing partner, it’s not a mode I personally prefer to use anywhere else. Sign opens no doors for me, LR does…. it’s basics really.

8 04 2008

I can relate to your comments MM, I can’t sign as of yet but am very keen to learn but at the same time I wnat to keep both doors open, and certainly not open one and close the other.
it’s debatable but I find the Deaf see things more as US and them rather than looking for ways to integrate.

I forgot to add, you ahev a great knack of pickign photos FOL, that guy has a face like a hippo lol

8 04 2008

Its a shame that people feel they can’t integrate within the Deaf community. I know that some people do have a bad attitude towards oral deaf people but then there are others who are much more accepting especially if you can use BSL to some degree….i guess it comes down to where you go and who you happen to meet.

My first experiences of mixing with Deaf people weren’t always good and I often avoided socialising with them when I was younger but I have come to realise I don’t need to mix with everyone in the Deaf community (there are plenty best avoided!) or for everyone to like me.

Macian – learning sign language isnt about closing doors but in fact opening a new one. If you can sign well enough – it can bring a new social life and also better access to services (via interpreters etc) No need to leave the hearing world behind.

9 04 2008

As I pointed out, I can sign now, if push comes to shove and I can no longer function in any manner with a hearing world, then the option to utilise the deaf area is still open to me, I see it as a last resort really… perhaps the wrong reason to enter a deaf community in retrospect. I go to a deaf club once a week the other 6 days I don’t interact with other deaf at all. I Keep options open. Obviously that way culture means very little to me…

I think the issue is there seems some ‘drive’ in that if you are deaf or going deaf, then you have to leave the hearing area and integrate into a deaf one, social services will also advise this. “Because it willbe easier for you…” it is in effect asking you to give up with trying in the hearing area, it’s bad advice I think, because you can rapidly enter into a deaf way of things, and never try then, I think deaf need pushing to integrate or at least try, all the time…

You can’t raise any awareness by staying out. People will see you physically not attempting to go half-way, and see straight through it….. you want access, but only if it suits you…. and if you can take it or leave it. Mainstream will not be impressed….

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