Pencil and paper can be very useful for those situations where the speaker just can’t be understood.  Using the written word can be helpful in all sorts of situations such as at the train station, when out shopping, meetings and consultations, and also in social setting.

Below are some comments that people made about using writing as a conversation strategy:

1. I take pen/pencil and paper with me wherever I go. If I cannot follow a person I give them the pen and paper to write it down for me.

2. If I am making arrangements with someone or if they give me information I write it down.  Then if I am unsure I can ask them to check I’ve got it right.

3. I always write down the details about a meeting place, etc. and then I get the speaker to check. This helps me to avoid confusion.

4. If someone tells me a time (e.g. to meet them) I get them to write it down.  This makes sure I have lipread the time correctly.

5. I find people’s names and place names very difficult to hear/lipread.  I always carry a pen and some paper so I can ask people to write these down.

6. If someone is writing notes for me I ask them to write it down in full.  This means I don’t have to guess what their abbreviations mean.

7. I have an app on my phone and tablet where people can “write” using their finger or a stylus. (Editor’s note: What apps are available will depend on what smart phone you have and which operating system. Some phones may have an app that come with them as standard – e.g. recent I-phones have the “Notes” app where you can either type, speak or write notes.)

8. I find my speech to text app invaluable – it’s quicker than writing with paper and pen, but it does have it’s drawbacks – it struggles with some accents and voices and is sometimes less accurate than I’d like, but I wouldn’t want to be without it. (Editor’s note: There are various speech to text apps available, some better than others. The two I have found reasonably good are Notes on I-phones and Live Transcribe on Android phones.)

Sudden deafness and the written word

People who have experienced sudden severe or profound deafness have found the written word invaluable.  In this situation getting people to write things down can be a lifeline.

One person who experienced a sudden profound hearing loss said, “If people hadn’t been prepared to write things down for me in those first few months, I wouldn’t have been able to cope at all. I found that once I explained that unless they wrote down I would not be able to understand them people were more than willing to help.  As my lipreading improved people didn’t have to write quite so much.  Even now, after several years, I take pen and paper everywhere with me for those difficult situations”.