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Read those LIPS! Lip reading!

Lip reading - Give me a break please.


Mis - lip reading conversation is a regular occurrence for me and has always been, since I have been unable to use a hearing aid in my right ear and only have an aid in my left ear, it has become much much harder for me as time goes on. I keep misunderstanding words and sentences on a daily basis and words become more and more obscure or downright stupid. I am not going to go into great detail as I find it rather embarrassing, a woman in her 40’s who has two degrees completely misunderstanding what her nearest and dearest are trying to say to her and I get it completely wrong.


I find it disheartening personally when a child is born into a hearing family and they are able to ‘cope’ and can lipread really well and learn to talk. Or a older person who was hearing and has lost their hearing and has maybe become deafened or even profoundly deaf. And they are expected to learn to lipread in order to communicate.


Reading lips is a LOT harder than you realise.


Lip reading takes a lot of energy and concentration and is not even 30% accurate as most of us just guess the sentence which can lead to some embarrassment.


I was sitting watching something on my iPad, having a moment of escapism and nothing to focus on which is much needed when living in a hearing family and I was told something by my daughter and I said ‘Your teacher is so cool, she pees in a jar ...’?

My partner and children looked amused and started laughing and shaking their heads and I knew instantly that I had got it wrong, so I asked what was said ... it turns out she had said .... ‘my teacher is so cool, she plays the guitar...’ mmm ok.


Another time I was walking my dog with a friend and I thought she said to me ‘There’s some nice ass over there ...’ and it turns out after a lot of laughter she actually said ‘There’s some nice grass over there for your dog.’


I know it is just the way it is, but sometimes, it is a little mortifying and the time and energy that I took trying to process what was said was wasted, for me to re lip read and try and get it right once again. Which is why I implore to parents please sign to your children when you are talking to them, especially when they are tired, when they are home from a long day at school. When they are having a bath or going to bed and they having got their hearing aids or cochlea implants in ... or if they are standing a fair distance from you - as I have been told many many times - “you must be able to lipread private conversations across a room!’ - actually NO I cannot lipread private conversations! Because I need to know the person, I need to know their lip patterns, I need to know the context of what they are talking about and my eye sight does range that FAR!!! Now let me have my coffee in peace!

Some people are JUST easy to lipread and others are just impossible to lipread and there is nothing that can be done about that, cue interpreter or learn to SIGN! Unfortunately the slightest misunderstanding can completely change your train of thought and result in some mighty clangers!


Even these simple statements can be easily mistaken when lip reading ...


I love you - interpreted as Olive Juice / Elephant Shoes / Colourful


You’re an idiot - interpreted as you’re hideous


Words that sound similar that can cause issues such as ...

Mop / bop /pop


Cab / lab

Ten / den


Cat / hat / pat


And so on.


Here are some top tips for making the lip-reader’s life a bit easier ...


  • learn some basic signs

  • Don’t expect too much from them when they are tired

  • Have talking breaks

  • Make sure the environment is well lit

  • Do not eat or chew when you are talking

  • Do NOT cover your face with your hands or with an object

  • Speak slowly and clearly

  • Face the lip reader when speaking - V important!

  • Do not over exaggerate your facial expressions- this makes life harder!

If you WOULD like to learn some basic sign language or undertake the Level 1 accredited course please get in touch with Faye at Love to Communicate.


Thank you for reading this, I hope this is useful. Speak soon, F x

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