Making sure that you know exactly what has been said

Many words look the same or rather similar to someone who is lipreading; for example, the words view and few. To deaf people many words can sound the same or similar; for example, to some deaf people the words view and few might sound the same.

This section covers checking – making sure you know exactly what’s been said.

1. Some people find that if they understand quite a bit of a sentence, but not all, it can be helpful to repeat the part they understood. People often then seem not to mind helping. For example, somebody has said, “I’m going to ……… tomorrow” and the person who’s not hear/lipread where they are going might say “Where did you say you were going tomorrow?”

2. Some people said that they try never to say “What?”, “Pardon?”, “Say it again”, “What did you say?”, or “I’m sorry I did not catch that” because then the speaker doesn’t know what the deaf person has not understood.

One person said, “I only make those sort of comments if I have no idea what the speaker has been saying. If I have the slightest idea, I use one of the following strategies.”

3. Numbers can cause a lot of difficulty because so many of them look (and/or sound) the same or similar to someone who is lipreading.  For example; six, eight, nine and ten may all look similar. 

It’s also true that numbers ending in –teen and –ty such as thirteen and thirty can look the same or similar.

One person said, “If it is a number/name, etc., I repeat back the number/name I think it is. For example if I am not sure whether it is 15 or 50 I do not say “Is it 15 or 50?”, because they will usually only repeat what they said before or say “Yes!”  If I think it is 15, I say “Did you say 15?”

That is, I give them one number and then look for a clear “Yes” or a clear “No”, or at least a shake/nod of the head, or an expression. Unfortunately I cannot always get a clear “Yes” or a clear “No”.  I use this method for any words I’m not sure of.”

4. I always carry paper and pencil. I write down what I think they said and show it back for them to agree or disagree with.

5. I give the speaker the pen and paper and ask them to write it down for me.  Most people seem happy to help.

6. I used to dread people writing things down – I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. It took me a long time to get used to it, but now I welcome it. I find it really helpful as I can relax and be sure of the facts.

7. I carry pen and notepad always, not just for checking but also to put any important information down in. Quite a few people mentioned the value of using a notebook rather than using scraps of paper because bits of paper can get lost so easily. Some people said that they used a diary rather than a notepad.

Some people use the very small pads and others prefer the shorthand or the A5 size.

8. Some people said that they found it helpful to ask for numbers to be repeated digitally: For example seventeen is one seven and thirty four is three four.   One person added, “Then to make sure and in case they cannot hear me, I repeat the numbers back digitally when I am checking. For example, “Did you say one seven?”

9. Some people ask for words and names to be repeated in letters: For example, Smith is
S   M    I    T     H.  Sometimes people find that after the first few letters they know what the name is.

10. Some speakers use one of the police, fire or military alphabets.

Some speakers use one of the alphabets used by the police or military. E.g. they might say S for Sierra, M for Mike, I for India and so on. We got the following two alphabets from the internet and these may be used by a speaker to you if you ask for a name or a word to be spelled out. They may use them face to face or on the telephone. Some people call these alphabets “Phonetic Alphabets”.

If the listening conditions are bad, then sometimes the rhythm of the words can help.

NATO and UK Police        American Police
NNovember NNora

However, you have a hearing loss you may benefit from seeing these lists as some of the words can be difficult to interpret when you first hear and/or lipread them – for example S for Sierra.

11. Some people use their own alphabets:

Not everybody knows the police and NATO alphabets. Some speakers just say whatever first comes into their mind. For example, they might say “S for Susan, M for Michael, etc. It can sometimes be very helpful when speakers do that. It does mean that speakers do not necessarily have to learn the police and NATO alphabets.