I’m a lipreader and I say that to people thinking it’s straight forward. I haven’t said hard of hearing in a few years because people think it’s talk louder, not look at me. I want them to look at me so I hear better and I can see.
A few weekends ago I attended a little get together. The lights were dimmed to create atmosphere so I asked the host if he could turn up the lights so I could hear better. He laughed and thought that was so funny and I meant to deliver it in a humorous way to keep the request light. My husband told him, “It’s so she can see your lips better.” The host is a sweetheart and he turned up the lights and I did okay!
Most hearing people get it when I say I lipread. (It’s politically correct to use speechreading these days but most people understand the term lipreading better.) I use my remaining hearing also, like pieces to a puzzle. Lipreading works well. It gets them to face me and sound is delivered right to me and I can use my lipreading ability too. Between the two, I get along great in many situations. Until I don’t.
Being a Burning Man person since 2002, I attend regional burns and this last weekend was one of them. I went to run around the fire like the old days but a ranger stopped me with arms out. I hear enough to know she was talking but heard nothing of what she said so I told her I lipread. She immediately started using American Sign Language (ASL) with me and I t was hard not to roll my eyes. Or maybe I did. I told her “I lipread, I don’t sign.” She stopped but then she didn’t know how to talk to me. She kept looking down and away so I told her to keep her face toward the fire so I could use the light too. After all that, she was pretty good and explained the new rules of the burn. I eventually admitted to her I am learning sign but I’m not fluent enough to have conversations yet. She told me she’s an interpreter at the local college.
Today I was talking to another lipreading friend and she said she often has problems lipreading interpreters. I thought that was odd at first because at work the interpreters will voice interpret for me when necessary….but wait. I work at the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center. They know me and other hard of hearing people so they know more about our needs.
So I started thinking about it. I have a neighbor across the street who is also an ASL interpreter at the local community college. She’s painfully shy and doesn’t use any body language when talking to me nor facial expressions. (Hard to imagine her interpreting.) She talks super low too and I barely register her voice most of the time. I think my friend is right, most ASL interpreters don’t know how to talk to the hard of hearing. What an odd world. The Deaf and the Hard of Hearing have troubles with hearing communication so you’d think it would cross over but it generally doesn’t.
Want to learn more about lipreading? Here’s a few sites for you.
Rachel Kolb. She’s deaf and she signs but she also lipreads. She made a great video describing how hard it can be to lipread. https://vimeo.com/148127830
Here’s a site for practicing lipreading though it’s from the United Kingdom. The accent makes it harder to understand however I was surprised at how many words I understood. https://pddcs.co.uk/2013/11/19/online-lipreading-practice-resource/
Here’s the American version which is easier but after a few lessons they charge a fee. https://www.lipreading.org/
For a lot of fun and to see how lipreading can go so wrong, watch the bad lipreading series on YouTube. Here’s a football one to get you started https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-kGosnzvjU There are all kinds of them, including politics, Star Wars and more. Be sure to click the CC button. Sometimes it’s YouTube craptions but mostly I think they have good captions.
Here’s my favorite speechreading book: https://www.amazon.com/Speechreading-Carol-Garretson-Harriet-Kaplan/dp/B0088OYYFW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468884139&sr=8-1&keywords=speechreading
There are DVD lessons to buy out there too but I’m not seeing the one I work with. I’ll find her full name when I go to work on Wednesday and enter it in the comments afterward.
There are lipreading classes available. I know because we teach them here in Utah. I teach the class myself and it’s my favorite one. Look up your state Deaf and Hard of Hearing center for resources. Try a web search too. The bigger the city, the more likely there will be one in your area.