Lipreading Awareness Week – An Extraordinary Blog

As a child, I was always an avid reader, perhaps because my general lack of coordination meant I was so terrible at sport. I read anything and everything; consuming every book in my parents house and the local library several times over before I went to secondary school. One book that made a lasting impression on me, and first got me interested in politics was the brilliant ‘Yes Minister Diaries’. I was ambitious but confident that if I worked hard enough, I too could find myself in Whitehall. I was driven from an early age to make my mark on the world if I could.

Finding out I had a rare genetic illness that would take my hearing made me scale back my ambitions and this was probably the greatest mistake (I have made many) I ever made. I assumed that there was no future for me in Whitehall where I had impending deafness hanging over me. Training and qualifying as a teacher seemed like a stable choice; if I couldn’t be one of the leaders of the country then perhaps I could inspire FUTURE leaders instead?

I had 6 great years as a teacher and head of department before my hearing finally and very quickly gave up the ghost. I struggled on for another five years but had lost the tenacity and drive than I once had. I struggled to engage with the students in the classroom because I didn’t get the right support to enable me to do my job effectively. My employer had no idea how to support me or use me effectively and because I didn’t know any different, I just accepted the fact that this was the best I could do.

Leaving a well paid and senior position in education when you are profoundly deaf, have long-term health issues and a young family to support is not going to be easy. I struggled for many months looking for a new career and despite a promising start with some interviews, I was getting nowhere. Applying to the Civil Service on a whim after seeing an advert for a graduate programme seemed like a long shot, for someone who had graduated 15 years ago and couldn’t hear.

Yet from the word go, things were different. The recruiters seemed genuinely interested in what I said. They were proactive in working out how best to support me through the recruitment process and recognised a potential I had forgotten I once had. With their support and encouragement I was lucky and won a place on the Civil Service Fast Stream. It looked like I was off the Whitehall after all!

Starting in a new organisation, surrounded by strangers in an entirely new profession is daunting. Starting there when you cannot hear anything either was terrifying. Whilst my new employers were happy to organise any support that I felt I needed, neither I nor they really knew what was available or suitable in the highly-sensitive environment in which I was now working. We tried notetakers, volunteer scribes, on-site palantypists, frantically scribbling things on post it notes and whilst everyone was very supportive, I don’t think that I was really getting the opportunity to be my best. After six months battling to find ways to make it work I was introduced to Lipspeaker’s UK by an inspirational deafened woman who used them to support her launch and build her own company.

Straight away I realised Lipspeakers were the right choice for me. Having a face to face interpreter not only helped me to understand what was going on, it put others at ease too. Great lipspeakers are not just there to help the deaf/deafened client follow conversation but to act as facilitators enabling me to communicate with others effectively. They support me in interacting with peers and senior leaders who might not be familiar at working with people with hearing loss; it’s very much a two way process. Their flexibility finding me support at the last minute, all over the country in a huge range of locations from prisons to Parliament has meant that my deafness does not hold me back like I thought it would.

Using lipspeakers has enabled me to play on a level playing field and to achieve despite the communication barriers I face. I am becoming a much more effective leader and actually having these barriers has made me a better communicator because I am concise and direct with my words (sometimes TOO direct!).

Having now finished the Fast Stream and the Masters that accompany it I am looking forward to the next step in my career. Lipspeaker UK has empowered me and have had no small part in my successfully completing and passing both a highly-competitive programme and a gruelling Masters of Science. They have taught me that it’s OK to say ‘I can’t access this’; to be bold and decisive about the support that you need to be your best; to not to take no for an answer and above all to be open with people. Explain what your preferred communication method is and help others by making it quite clear what they can do to support you and communicate with you more effectively. I can assure you, they will thank you for it and are likely far more apprehensive about getting it wrong than you may be.

The lessons I have learned so far on my Whitehall journey are obviously unique to me and now having met and worked alongside many hearing impaired and Deaf colleagues, I fully understand each has individual communication needs and preferences. I have used my contacts and experiences to work alongside other brilliant Civil Servants to co-found the Civil Service Hearing Network; giving a voice to those who have hearing difficulties, care for those who do or have an interest in finding out what more they can do to work alongside the 1 in 7 of the population who class themselves as Deaf/deaf/deafened/hearing. impaired/with a hearing loss. Each will describe themselves using a different terminology with which they are most comfortable. What they all have in common is that they want to be defined by what they CAN do, regardless of the communication barriers they may face. Follow us, our work and the high-achievers in our network on Twitter @CShearnetwork

Andy Wight

By |2018-09-10T12:45:40+00:00September 10th, 2018|Uncategorised|Comments Off on Lipreading Awareness Week – An Extraordinary Blog

Wondering why there are now two associations for lipspeakers? Lesley, Chair of the Association of Lipspeakers with Additional Sign speaks to deaf entrepreneur Terry Pizzey of Walk Through Online.

Terry: I am hard of hearing and use lipspeakers from time to time. How do I know who to book?
Lesley: Very good question. Every person’s needs are different. You explained to me that you are new to using lipspeakers and that you find some signs being used added to the meaning and that you also found that in turn, this meant the lipreading was less tiring. You would benefit from using lipspeakers who can sign.

Terry: Why do we have two associations and how are they different?
Lesley: There was a growing need to separate lipspeakers who can sign from those who can’t. Lipspeakers would arrive for a booking where lipspeaking with sign was required and they didn’t have the necessary skills to support the deaf person. This meant the deaf person was left without support, the lipspeaker was often left feeling upset or disappointed that the right questions had not been asked at the time of booking to ensure the right support professional had been booked and public money was wasted on having to rebook the correct professional. The impact on a deaf person is huge. Imagine going to an interview for a job. You’ve booked a lipspeaker with sign but the agency hasn’t requested such. A professional lipspeaker turns up but they can’t sign. You can’t continue with the interview. The prospective employer doesn’t understand why the support was incorrect. The interview can’t go ahead. All sorts of ramifications.

The new directory will make it clearer and easier for deaf people who specifically need a lipspeaker who can use signs to support meaning to book the right support; the support professional that best matches their needs. Of course lipspeakers who satisfy the criteria can be members of both associations.

Terry: Who started ALAS?
Lesley: In short, I did. With a great of help and support from many lipspeakers and one in particular; Linzi, my daughter but also a qualified lipspeaker who has British Sign Language (BSL) Level 3 qualifications. I was the former Chair, Vice-Chair, treasurer and a long standing committee member for the ALS (The Association of Lipspeakers) and have over 15 years of committee experience including being the ladies representative at board level for my local rugby club and former registrant member of the NRCPD board. This made me confident of not only the need for change, but that I was able to start the association from scratch, make it a professional association that meaningfully supported lipspeakers and deaf people.

Terry: What happened to the ALS?
Lesley: The ALS is now over twenty years old and well established. Indeed, I was Chair from 2013-2016 and made many improvements. For example, I introduced internet banking, a new dynamic website, an established social media presence, 3 opportunities a year to obtain continued professional development (CPD) points for learning and development and saved the association spending out precious funds on travelling to meetings by introducing committee meetings through Skype. After successfully completing my Chairmanwomanship I soon saw that the incoming Chair had a different way of working and I no longer felt able to support the ALS.

Terry: So the ALAS was all your idea?
Lesley: No. The Association of Lipspeakers with Additional Sign (ALAS) was created as a response to the communication needs of deaf people. A response to the growing demand for communication support in English, with signs borrowed from the complex British Sign Language. Deaf people are relying more and more on a service that on paper doesn’t exist.

Let me quote a deaf person who chooses to use lipspeakers with additional sign. Jane Cordell, explains:

‘Being deaf in a hearing world is challenging and potentially isolating. Innovation which improves the quality of the support we receive is welcome. When you are deaf you have no choice but to use any visual signals you can access to help you understand a situation. There are no rigid boundaries about ‘types’ of deafness – we all need to work hard to understand sound, whatever our preferences for communication. Many English sounds are ambiguous. We join beginnings and ends of words and lipreading without specialist support risks us completely missing important messages. In some cases – for example in health settings -this can be risky and dangerous and in others it can simply undermine us – which reinforces the isolation we can feel. I realised this many years ago when learning to lipread and trying to use my skills to develop my career. I encouraged any lipspeakers I used to add signs when they could, because it provided a crucial extra ‘safety net’ layer of meaning and reduced the risk of me misunderstanding.I have noticed colleagues who had previously used either BSL interpreters or lipspeakers sometimes opting for this type of support because it gave them more accurate understanding.

ALAS is a welcome addition to the family of professional bodies which do such a good job of ensuring standards, security and safety among our superb support workers.”

Terry: Is Signed lipspeaking new or has it been around for sometime?
Lesley: Sign supported lipspeaking is nothing new. It’s recognising in a more formal way a service that will hopefully give rise to a national occupational standard (NOS) and a future qualification to set a standard. This qualification will be based on vocabulary competence rather than on BSL linguistics and will be something to measure against to protect the user and registrant. I was part of the team that created the NOS for the new lipspeaking qualification so feel well placed to take this forward to realisation.

Terry: How do I know what level of lipspeaker to book?
Lesley: You should only book NRCPD registered level 3 lipspeakers who carry a badge. A lipspeaker with level one BSL would be hard pushed to say they can offer lipspeaking with sign support (unless the topic was dates, times and countries) but those who have completed level 2 and are working towards level 3 are capable of providing a service as their knowledge of BSL vocabulary is far better. Some deaf people, however, will require sign competence of level 6. This is easy to identify on the directory and each lipspeaker must declare their BSL skill level; some lipspeakers like me are also trainee (TSLI) and qualified BSL interpreters (RSLI).

This differs from sign supported English (SSE) as interpreters aren’t trained in lipspeaking. A clear lip pattern is essential, hence lipspeaking with sign support comes under the remit of the professional lipspeaker and not an interpreter.

A new website has been developed which includes a directory for members to advertise their skills and contact details. Everyone registered in this directory is a qualified, NRCPD registered level 3 lipspeaker with a minimum skill competence of level 2 BSL. There is now one directory for lipspeakers who can offer this type of support in response to the need for change.

Terry: How do you ensure members are kept up to date, professionally?
Lesley: Training will be available to those on the register to enhance the quality of support they offer. This will seek to promote best practice. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is important for all communication professionals. With so few lipspeakers in the UK, and previously only one association for lipspeakers, CPD opportunities were difficult to find and focused on lipspeaking skills. ALAS started by

Police Workshop – 7th April 2018

providing a minimum of 2 CPD opportunities annually for all members and these have included improving sign language vocabulary for lipspeakers and improving knowledge of public sector bodied such as the police. The training is open to deaf and hearing people. Please do check the website for details.

If you are qualified in lipspeaking and hold a minimum level 2 BSL you can join as a full member. If you don’t have the minimum qualifications you can support the association by becoming an associate member. Student lipspeakers are also welcome to join.

If you are interested in lipspeaker training please do get in touch.




By |2018-06-11T17:15:53+00:00June 11th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Wondering why there are now two associations for lipspeakers? Lesley, Chair of the Association of Lipspeakers with Additional Sign speaks to deaf entrepreneur Terry Pizzey of Walk Through Online.

Making Police work accessible

In partnership with Police Link Officers for Deaf people (PLOD), ALAS members attended an informative CPD day at Southampton Police station on Saturday 7th April 2108.

Members were given a comprehensive tour of the police station followed by a Q&A session with PLOD officers. This included the process for those being arrested, victims and witnesses. Lipspeaker Jay even managed to have his height checked in the custody suite.

In the afternoon members were given the opportunity to role-play the interview process with a PLOD officer, solicitor and deaf person. Feedback from the day was very positive and we look forward to working with PLOD again in 2019.

Photo of ALAS members sat in Police conference room





“Well presented programme with very useful handbook.”

“Small group and very interactive comments with police team.”


By |2018-04-08T14:36:58+00:00April 8th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Making Police work accessible

Police Workshop & AGM

We are looking forward to welcoming ALAS members to our second CPD workshop. In conjunction with the police link officers for deaf people (PLOD) Chair Lesley Weatherson is hosting this informative day with colleague and fellow BSL Interpreter Glen Barham MBE.

“Many lipspeakers and BSL interpreters do not feel confident or competent to work in the police setting. We hope that by having a tour of the busy station, an insight into policies and procedures as well as an in-depth Q &A session with PLOD, Language service professionals will feel able to accept bookings and provide communication support for deaf people”.

In addition to the information sharing, the station are facilitating a role play exercise for attendees to have a go at lipspeaking an interview.

“It’s often the fear of the unknown. By lipspeaking for a deaf detainee whilst being filmed, looking back on the clip and self evaluating, ones skills and conduct will be enhanced and improved”.

The day will conclude with the inaugural AGM for ALAS.

See you there.


By |2018-04-06T13:19:55+00:00April 6th, 2018|News|Comments Off on Police Workshop & AGM

We’ve turned one!

ALAS is celebrating a successful first year! After establishing in January 2017 the association has 18 members and over 800 followers on Twitter.

With growing demand for lipspeaking with additional sign and with more lipspeakers now being trained, there was a need for a register that identifies lipspeakers who can sign from those who can’t.

Until ALAS established, opportunities for continuous professional development (CPD) had been limited for lipspeakers and therefore additional training days are needed. ALAS now offers additional opportunities to gain valuable CPD points. Their first two-day legal training workshop was sold out in a week!

We have had fantastic feedback to say our website is easy to use and clearly demonstrates the differences between lipspeaking, lipspeaking with additional signed support and British Sign Language.

We are excited to see what exciting things are yet to come in 2018!

By |2018-01-10T13:45:34+00:00January 10th, 2018|News|Comments Off on We’ve turned one!

Competition time!

It’s Lipreading Awareness Week 2017!

It has happened to us all, that moment when we have misheard a word, missed what someone has said, or just completely lipread them wrong. We want to know when has lipreading gone wrong for you? What words have caused confusion?!

Communication professionals, perhaps someone has misheard you, or been mistaken when you have given instruction.

Tweet us your funny stories for a chance to win one free place at our Signs in Context workshop taking place Friday 15th September 2017.

Competition closes 14/09/17 at 18:00 and the winner will be notified on Twitter at 19:00.

Good luck!

By |2017-09-14T09:38:28+00:00September 14th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Competition time!

DeafATW’s Survey (in BSL and English)

Hi everyone,

Please find below a link to DeafATW’s survey (in BSL and English) to get feedback from Deaf people with ATW who are or will be affected by the cap.

If you are capped, or will be capped in April 2018, please take the survey, and if you know people who are or will be capped, please send them the link.

The survey link:

The survey mainly looks at what their budget is, why they need it to be that, what the impact of the cap is on their work, and what impact it has had on their thoughts about future work / career.

It builds on the work done with the ten Deaf people meeting with the DWP to discuss the cap in June. The results will be used to help DeafATW and the UKCoD Employment group, to campaign on the issue.

If you want to see more about the survey, the ATW cap, or about the meeting with DWP, in BSL and English, then goto:

A reminder, the survey is for people who:
Have an ATW award AND
Are capped already, or will be capped in April 2018 AND
Live in England, Wales or Scotland (not Northern Ireland).
The survey is in BSL and English. People can answer in BSL, just need to contact me [email protected]

The survey closes Friday 22nd September.

Any questions,

please let me know.

Cheers Darren Townsend-Handscomb (RSLI, DeafATW)

By |2017-09-12T09:42:37+00:00September 12th, 2017|News|Comments Off on DeafATW’s Survey (in BSL and English)

The funeral of Diana Barimore

Diana Barimore’s funeral will be held at 12:00 midday on Friday 22nd September at Mortlake Crematorium, Richmond, TW9 4EN.

Due to number restrictions, if you wish to attend please contact Lynne Dubin at [email protected]. If communication support is required please contact [email protected].

Please see below for a map and directions from Mortlake Station. There is adequate parking on site if you wish to travel by car.


In lieu of flowers for her funeral, Diana’s family have requested donations to be made in her memory to the National Association of Deafened People and MIND.


By |2017-09-13T14:48:00+00:00September 11th, 2017|News|Comments Off on The funeral of Diana Barimore

Tragic News

Dear Friends

With great sadness I am writing to tell you that Di died yesterday evening at 8pm after a great effort to stay connected in the face of huge odds for this past month.

We expect to hear more when her brother Stewart has had time to speak to the consultant and hospital staff.

The beautiful book of messages from you will give comfort to Di’s family.

Thank you for letting her know you were thinking of her and for providing such comfort to all those who loved and respected her.

with many thanks

Lynne and Lesley



By |2017-09-01T09:34:07+00:00September 1st, 2017|News|Comments Off on Tragic News

Get Well Soon Di

Dear Members,

Our friend and colleague, Diana Barimore met with a dreadful accident last Sunday morning, 30th July, when taking her dog Bertie to her local park for his usual walk. Di was somehow in collision with a cyclist participating in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 2017 event. This crash has left Di with critical head injuries and in hospital, unconscious in the neuro ITU unit, where she remains. Her family have come down from Glasgow to be with her.

We all want to make sure Di knows we are thinking of her right now, wishing her a good recovery and sending her our love and support. However, we also know that is not possible for a while yet and so we are setting up ways for all who want to send something to write her a message and post it via ALS and ALAS. She will be surprised and delighted to read what we are writing to her today, once she is back with us and on the mend.

We will certainly send updates when we receive further news, but meantime do leave Di a message via the links below.

The page will require you to enter a password. This is for privacy of comments; this password is: GetWellDi

This password is one word and it is important that you use lower case and upper case letters.

Linzi Weatherson
ALAS Membership Secretary & Social Media Officer

By |2017-08-04T17:28:55+00:00August 4th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Get Well Soon Di

NADP Conference 2017

Saturday 6th May saw NADP (National Association of Deafened People) and EFHOH (European Federation of Hard of Hearing) join forces to host the 2017 conference.

ALAS and ALS (Association of Lipspeakers) were both present to represent lipspeaking. Just like Deaf Day 2017, both organisations worked together to promote the communication preference.

Fiona Walker from ALAS, and Lynne Dubin from ALS were answering lots of questions and using their handy lipspeaking information cards made by Linzi Weatherson.

ALAS Information Cards



By |2017-05-14T14:28:01+00:00May 14th, 2017|News|Comments Off on NADP Conference 2017

Deaf Day 2017

Saturday 22nd April saw City Lit host its annual Deaf Day! Our very own Fiona Walker was promoting lipspeaking with additional sign.

Jay weatherson was present to display lipspeaking, and even make a new ALAS recruit!

By |2017-04-23T13:58:29+00:00April 23rd, 2017|News|Comments Off on Deaf Day 2017

ALAS Launches!

More and more deaf people are requesting lipspeakers to use some sign language vocabulary to support the meaning of the speaker, when lipspeaking. There are only a handful of lipspeakers who are able to offer this service and they aren’t always easy to find. In a response to the growing demand, ALAS was established.

On Monday 13th March ALAS launched! Keep your eyes peeled for introductory offers and exclusives!



By |2017-03-15T11:35:39+00:00March 15th, 2017|News|Comments Off on ALAS Launches!

ALAS is almost ready to be launched

Lesley Weatherson, founder of ALAS, presented the new association to NRCPD board in London 01/03/17. The board had the opportunity to ask questions, clarify aims and objectives as well as listen to Lesley’s pitch!

Lesley was part of a talented group of lipspeakers and deaf service users who created the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the Level 3 Certificate in Lipspeaking and would like to see a NOS created to set a standard for lipspeaking with sign.

“Deaf people are relying on a service that on paper, doesn’t exist”

Lesley would like to see a qualification created to set a standard; a qualification based on signs borrowed from BSL, vocabulary competence.


By |2017-03-12T14:26:40+00:00March 2nd, 2017|News|Comments Off on ALAS is almost ready to be launched