One of the earliest known lipreading teacher training courses in the UK was set up by the RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss) after the Second World Was because there were a large number of war-deafened ex-servicemen who needed lipreading tuition. By 1970, before ATLA was formed, the training of lipreading teachers was being undertaken at the City Lit Centre for Deaf People in London.
Over the years a small but dedicated and growing number of qualified lipreading teachers struggled to achieve proper recognition of the communication needs of people with acquired deafness who use speech. Their needs are different from those of deaf people who use sign language.
These lipreading teachers were often very isolated having to work alone in different parts of the country to obtain funding to run free lipreading classes at a time when few deaf people or service providers knew about lipreading classes. Lipreading teachers would often travel long distances to meet to exchange
teaching material and provide mutual support. The need for a professional association was finally realised when ATLA was set up in 1977. Later, ATLA became a registered charity.
ATLA was born out of the firm belief that ‘lipreading’ belonged within education because it was important for the self-esteem of people with an acquired deafness to feel that they themselves were tackling their situation and working on their skills of lipreading and communication.
A City Lit trained lipreading teacher set up the lipreading teacher training course in Manchester, and graduates from that course were active in the setting up of teacher training courses in Scotland. In 2012 a lipreading teacher training course was set up in Wales. The four courses are now all recognised as ‘ATLA approved’ and subscribe to modules set out in the newly accredited City and Guilds
‘Principles and Practice of Lipreading Teaching’ unit no. L/504/0231.