Deaf Girl on a Train

A blog from Nigel Morgan about his interaction with a deaf girl.  

Nigel Morgan is a great friend of terptree; he is a former chief reporter at the Newbury Weekly News who has run the public relations and social media consultancy Morgan PR and regularly supports us. He is also a Director Consultant with networking organisation BNI; and is worth talking to if you want to grow your business.

When we heard he had met a deaf girl on a train, we asked to hear his perspective on the encounter.

I relished having four seats all to myself as we pulled out of Paddington when a young woman hurried down the aisle and sat opposite me with a shy smile.

My Kindle was already in hand as she pulled out a hefty copy of Lord of the Rings, and feeling guilty about wanting the seats to myself, I said: “Good book.” She didn’t respond immediately and, a few moments later, looked up and smiled.
Slight odd, I thought to myself, and then she told me I had the advantage as I could see what she was reading. Thankfully I was not tackling 50 shades of anything and could admit to reading and explaining it was a biography of William Dampier, a British explorer who had been the first to explore parts of Western Australia.

It was as I spoke I noticed she wasn’t making eye contact and was instead intently watching my mouth as I spoke… she was reading my lips.

“May I ask you a question?” I asked.

“Am I deaf?” she correctly guessed I would ask and said I had spotted it much more quickly than many.

I had to confess she was not my first lip-reading deaf girl. Indeed I had first witnessed lip reading in abundance; when I attended a careers convention at Mary Hare in Newbury back around 1990. I was a journalist with the Newbury Weekly News and found my stand at the event was really popular, and the students that flocked around were literally hanging on my every word!

She grinned as I explained this, and she told me she had been to that very school, and it was where she had learned to read lips. I earned a compliment for speaking clearly, apparently!

Not that it stopped me from talking to her while turning and looking at the countryside speeding past my mind! When I did that, she would laugh and ask me to repeat what I had said.

She told me how being deaf was not as much of a handicap as I might think and reading lips was especially useful at parties. Beyond that, we chatted normally, like two people who met on the train.