Hearing loss affects over 12 million people in the UK, that is 1 in 5 (Source RNID Oct 2020). Not all deaf/hard of hearing people use sign language, some rely on lipreading. A lipspeaker is a hearing person who has been professionally trained to be easy to lipread. This is a very specialised skill and there are approximately only 50 NRCPD registered lipspeakers in the UK (Source NRCPD Feb 2020).
Whilst lipspeaking, I will repeat the speakers message either with or without voice, reproducing the rhythm, flow and tone, but always maintaining the meaning of what is being said. I will use fingerspelling and natural gestures, and if requested I can also use sign language to aid understanding. NOTE: Lipspeaking is not lip syncing, and there will naturally be a few seconds delay during lipspeaking as I process the information.
Like an interpreter, the lipspeakers aim is to ensure smooth communication. I need to be booked well in advance, providing as much information about the assignment as possible e.g. Venue/Platform (face to face or remote), date, time, type and complexity of assignment. The client should provide all relevant preparatory materials before the assignment. Two lipspeakers may be required if the booking is over two hours or is particularly challenging with multiple deaf/hard of hearing people present. In this situation we co work as a team, sharing the workload. If you are unsure if you need an interpreter or a lipspeaker, do get in touch and I can advise you accordingly.
As an NRCPD registered lipspeaker, I abide by NRCPD code of conduct.
I am a member of both the Associations of Lipspeakers (ALS) and the Association of lipspeakers with additional signs (ALAS).
A day in the life of a lipspeaker blog:
Under the Equality Act private, public and voluntary sectors need to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that people that are disabled are not placed at a substantial disadvantage. These adjustments include booking the most appropriate communication support such as a lipspeaker, for those using their services or who are employed by the company. Public services, organisation and businesses may be able to get government funding to assist with the costs of providing communication support. Deaf and hard of hearing people may be able to apply for Access to Work funding in the workplace.
Private events such as a wedding or a funeral may need to be paid for by deaf/hard of hearing person.