Getting good environmental conditions for listening and lipreading

Having the right environmental conditions can be very helpful for both listening and lipreading.

A. In general

1. One person said, “I need a good light as it is necessary for lipreading. Poor lighting can make me feel tired because I am straining to see people’s faces.  I have good lighting at home.”

2. Many people said that they make sure that the light is behind them and on the speakers faces.

One person said, “I try to arrange my position so that the light falls onto the face of the person I am talking to. If I cannot arrange this without being noticed I ask other people to change places with me. I do this whether I am inside or out of doors.”

3. Some people said that during the day they try to sit with my back to the window so that the light falls on other peoples’ faces.

4. Some people said that when they visit other peoples’ houses they are prepared to ask for more lights to be put on if it’s too dark or if the lighting changes e.g. in the early evening.  They said people are usually happy to help.

5. Some people try to avoid anything that obscures the speaker’s face. For example, in a restaurant they might move the candle or flowers out of the way so they get a clear view of the speaker.

6. One person said, “I need a steady light on the speaker’s face. I find that a flickering candle makes it very difficult to lipread and so I ask nicely if people mind if I put the candle out.”

7. Some people are careful not to start a conversation with someone if the environmental conditions are not good, e.g. if the person is too far away, is in another room or has the light behind them.  This isbecause this gives out the wrong message and can lead to people thinking that the deaf person can manage in these situations.

8. Some people say that if they are talking to one, two or three people they try to make sure they sit opposite them so that they do not have to turn their head so much when the others are talking.

9. Most people seem to find that 3-6 feet is a reasonable distance to be from the speaker. Many people find that closer makes them feel uncomfortable and they cannot see the speaker’s whole face and body language.

Other people find it more comfortable to be either closer or further away from the speaker.

10. Most people prefer rooms with soft furnishings like carpet, curtains, sofas, etc.  Soft furnishings usually cut out a lot of the echoes. However a few people prefer an echo.

11. Many people would not recommend bare wooden floors, Venetian blinds or steel furniture.  This is because sound can bounce off them and make an echo in the room.

B. Getting good environmental conditions in public meetings and churches, etc (There are more strategies for similar situations in Chapter 4 “Crowded Rooms”.)

1. Whenever I go to a public place I ask whether the loop is switched on and what area it covers. If possible I test the loop system before the meeting as that saves me a lot of worrying before the meeting. I try sitting in different places in the room because in some venues some parts of the room are better than other. Sometimes the best places may be far way from the speaker.

2. If I go to a place with a loudspeaker system I sit near the loud speaker if I want to hear the loudspeaker and as far away as possible if I do not want to hear the loudspeaker.

3. In some venues many people find seeing the speaker’s face more important than using the loop or loudspeaker systems. In those venues they sit near where the speaker will stand so that they can get a good view of the speaker’s face.

4. If no help is given to deaf people I go and see the manager as ask for help to be given. If I have time I always like to remind organisations that they are supposed to be providing help for disabled people under the Equality Act 2010.

You can find more information on the Equality Act on the following website: