Trust me I am a doctor

Trust me I'm a Doctor on the BBC recently broadcast a truly thought provoking and inspiring feature about people managing life with hearing loss and deafness including the benefits of attending Lip Reading and Managing Hearing Loss classes. One of Surrey Adult Learning's (SAL) tutors was approached to participate in the filming. In the event, Molly Berry the Chairman of the Association of Teachers of Lip reading to Adults (ATLA) and former tutor with SAL escorted the learners. Although the participants had to wait a long time and the episode did not show a Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss class in progress, they were however pleased that awareness surrounding Lip reading was heightened thanks to the BBC and it was a good measure to explain Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss to an audience that was not directly affected, plus the opportunity to express the benefits of our courses.

It was a privilege to attend the Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss class at the Sunbury Centre and meet a friendly group of learners, all dealing with the same challenges of managing hearing loss and finding coping strategies to lead a happy and better quality of life. The group was really cheerful and positive and the atmosphere was uplifting. Learners of mixed ability enjoy getting together in a safe place, sharing tips for life, experiences and hopeful ideas.

The Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss classes were led by Maria Bayley, a highly trained and experienced tutor and a qualified member of ATLA. Maria has a unique understanding of living with deafness and hearing loss but also a wonderful ability to make the Lip reading classes joyful, personalised and relevant to daily living with a focus on the importance of communication. The learners were relaxed and nobody felt self-conscious as the lesson progressed.

Ian from Woking is a learner with tutor Maria at the Sunbury Centre. Ian knows everyone and took part in the BBC filming. He said: "People don't realise how much Lip reading they already do, in busy places such as restaurants". He discussed the difficulties of background noise for people living with hearing loss and said: "Some people come along for a term or two, others have known each other for a long time and there is a real sense of camaraderie."

Jean also took part in the television broadcast, she is a retired primary school Headmistress with a real zest for life and bright personality. Jean shared her deep insight into the challenges and even rewards of living with hearing loss. I felt privileged to be given the chance to sit with the learners and experience first-hand a Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss class. We worked on certain sounds – how to identify them and decipher them and I realised just how complex and taxing Lip reading is. The group agreed that Lip reading is very tiring for the mind. Maria reassured the group that with practice one can enhance this life skill.

During the visit to the Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss class I had the pleasure of meeting an unexpected guest and very special addition to the class; Pete the dog, who is highly trained assistance hearing dog. His owner Heather Bland attends the Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss classes with Maria Bayley at the Sunbury Centre and this article would not be complete without a tribute to Pete, who was trained by the Beatrice Wright charity in York which provides hearing dogs for the deaf. Heather waited for 18 months until she was matched with Pete and the pair undertook intense training together.

Heather said "He has made a huge difference to my life, giving me more confidence at night when the world becomes silent when I take out my hearing aids. He helps me to hear the telephone, doorbell, timers and the smoke alarm. He does all of his by poking me with his nose and then taking me to the "noise". Each time he does this, he is rewarded with a treat. I take him shopping with me. In Tesco's Pete is really useful as he alerts the other shoppers that I am deaf and not able to hear if someone is coming behind me with their shopping trolley. I can't imagine life without him now and I am so very grateful to this amazing charity that does such a fantastic job in training the dogs and finding the right dog for the right person".

Surrey Adult Learning is proud to provide Lip reading and Managing Hearing Loss courses for learners managing deafness and hearing loss. Our tutors are qualified and passionate to share their knowledge.

To find out more contact our friendly Customer Service Team on 0300 200 1044 or Surrey Adult Learning website at or Textphone (via Text Relay) on 18001 0300 200 1044 or SMS on 07860 053 465.

  • Updated: 31 May 2020