I found an interesting short article today on the Better Hearing Institute's website that emphasized the importance of speaking clearly when speaking to hearing-impaired individuals, especially if they are lip reading. Their main points should sound familiar if you've been following this blog:
a. slow down
b. speak up (without yelling)
c. articulate (without over-articulating)
d. use pauses to emphasise important chunks of information
The article caught my attention because while I was traveling for Christmas and New Year's I had the joy of conversing with two stubborn individuals who can't hear a thing, but refuse to get hearing aids. Their common excuse is that everyone mumbles, and sometimes they're right about that. One of them commented on how easy I am to understand (while I was speaking a foreign language, no less).
What if we spoke to everyone as if they were reading our lips? Our clarity would improve tremendously!
Here's a little test I did on myself. Turn on your TV and flip to a news channel. Mute the TV. Without any training in lip reading at all, I could pick out words the anchorwoman was saying. Put together with visual images, I could get a good idea of what was going on. Now turn to a reality TV program (they aren't hard to find these days). I don't know about you, but it was a lot harder for me to read their lips!
This isn't to say we should all start speaking like news readers, but a small step in that direction wouldn't hurt! At least our hearing-impaired relatives will thank us!