'Reading the lips was a key part of my communication’: Hearing impaired struggle with lack of lip reading

'Reading the lips was a key part of my communication’: Hearing impaired struggle with lack of lip re

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - People in our area are realizing they have hearing problems without the ability to read lips.

“Reading the lips was a key part of my communication. When you’re hard of hearing, the first thing you do is learn to read lips and when you can’t see those lips then you really have trouble understanding the words that people are saying. You hear a noise, but it sounds muffled,” said Charles Litterell, a man with hearing impairment.

Litterell started having hearing issues 17 years ago, and that the last six months have been the hardest to understand people.

“Reading lips is huge, most people say they don’t read lips. But subconsciously the brain engages the eyes to help with the missing pieces that the ears are not picking up, so it becomes a big part of a person’s listening experience once they have a hearing problem,” said Bradley Bentley, hearing instrument specialist for the Livingston Hearing Aid Center.

Bentley and other audiologists in our area say they are seeing more people come in for help because of it.

“I’ve had lots and lots of patients come in needing adjustments if there wearing hearing aids, just some of those speech frequencies and things like that to help combat the issues with the masks,” said Kassidy Moore, director of audiology at the Quail Creek Ear, Nose, and Throat Center.

Moore also says people that didn’t know they had hearing problems are coming in because they’ve relied so much on lip reading.

“We’ve just had so many people coming in not realizing or needing help because that is the number one thing, they tell me is because of masks, that’s why they struggling so much right now than they did six months ago,” said Moore.

Our local audiologists say there are ways of helping the hearing impaired now.

Those are wearing a clear face mask, talking 10 percent louder and 10 percent slower and trying to eliminate as much background noise as you can.

“Just articulate the word, use the syllables, because if you do that, any person that is experiencing deaf just like I am, that helps tremendously,” said Litterell.

Bentley says we should all try to do what we can to help.

“It’s part of the hearing impaired and the community at large, to all do our part to try and make it as comfortable and easy to understand someone as we can,” said Bentley.

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