More from my Dad’s Hearing Aid book

Ed: Chapter 1 continued, where he writes about conversation strategies and the importance of not trying to hide your hearing difficulties or hearing aids.

It does not pay to keep your hearing aid a secret – rather the reverse in fact (Ed: interesting given most people’s goal to have a nearly invisible hearing aid).  It is essential to watch the speakers face, and therefore it is important that the speakers face, and especially the mouth, should actually be in view and adequately lighted – not for instance with his or her back to the window (Ed with good adaptive directional microphones this will be an added good strategy).  The job of interpreting conversation is that much more difficult if the talkers head is turned away. It is surprising how much reliance is put on a small element of lip reading even by normal hearing people (Ed: do you realise how much we all lipread? Have you ever noticed when the audio and the visual in a film are out of time with each other?  Most people pick that straight away, and it makes them uncomfortable, because their hearing and lipreading signals don’t match up). Indeed ordinary social politeness demands that when talking to another person one should face them (Ed: you will be a popular listener if you look at the speaker attentively – it makes the speaker feel you are very interested, and is part of a good active listening strategy.)

For the same reason, you may well experience difficulty in interpreting speech on the radio.  Television is rather easier, particularly the “formal” programmes such as the News in which the speakers face in sharply in focus. (Ed. this was written in England in earlier days of the Beeb.  Is this still true?)


  1. I don’t find the TV news particularly good in terms of lipreading because there is so much footage shown with voiceovers – you get a few seconds of newsreader (in focus, lipreadable) followed by a few minutes of footage, and the voiceover takes a second or two to adjust to because it’s usually a different pitch (male anchor/ female journalist, for example) and because you can’t see who’s speaking, the accent can be confusing too.

    My favourite though is SBS all the way – half of the footage is foreign-language interviews with requisite subtitles so even if you can’t really hear, the subtitles generally tell enough of the story to follow what is going on.

    Alison Keen
    1. Interesting comment Alison, thank you. I wonder if the news has got less clear, as a more relaxed approach to colloquial language is encouraged? The speakers on SBS assume that a number of their viewers may be watching in their second language. That must influence their approach. The next extract is about films.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *