Everyone lipreads to an extent regardless of their hearing, to get a sense of what people are saying to us. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people can rely almost fully on lip-reading, as they may not have the sound input to know what others are saying to them, or to follow a conversation.
Charlie Swinbourne, a deaf writer and filmmaker, taught himself to lipread. Only when he attended a class did he realise the complexities of the skills.
He made a video to show how easy it is to misinterpret what someone says to us.
Watching the video shows how important it is to learn to lip-read properly. Classes may not always be an option for different reasons (location, costs, time), but several tips can be obtained to enhance learning objectives.
Lipreading is extremely useful to people with hearing issues, and in forensic professions such as the police and the press, but it has one potential draw-back. Lip-reading is not an exact science and ideally needs context to work.
The art of lipreading is based on visually interpreting the movement of a speaker’s lips, face and tongue, as they speak. The drawback is that many sounds look the same. Consequently, if a sentence or word is “read” out of context, a speaker’s meaning can alter radically – which can be dangerous!
Part 2 to follow.
(compiled by Nicola Fox)