Tag Archives: learning to lipread

Speechreading Tips and Hints

Speechreading Tips & Hints
(also called Lipreading)

I teach speechreading at work and it’s becoming a popular class. The classes become a support group of sorts and we all share any insights we might have about lip shapes. They teach me as much as much as I teach them. I enjoy leading this class and sometimes I talk about it on Facebook. I have lots of hard of hearing friends thanks to attending hearing loss conventions. A number of those friends reply to my posts saying they wished they could take the class so I thought maybe I’d start sharing some of what I do here. I’ll even try adding videos.

You’re going to see me swap out the terms speechreading and lipreading. It’s the same thing but someone thought speechreading was better since it’s not lipreading alone. We rely on facial expressions, body language, gestures and situational cues as an aid to reading lips.

First of all, I am not the best lip reader and my students have witnessed me bomb…which I think actually helps them. It keeps it real, lowering expectations for themselves. It’s not something that just snaps in – it takes time, practice and patience which is why I also try to make the class fun. Having a sense of humor is a great help. So I’m not the best and I’m not the worst either. I fall somewhere in between. The students see my confidence and they know I don’t fear social situations and maybe that’s enough to encourage them.

Without hearing aids or my eyes I have a 30% word discrimination. With hearing aids and no eyes I have a 60% word discrimination. With my eyes and hearing aids I catch about 90% of what’s said. Without hearing aids and my eyes I’d guess I’m somewhere around 70%. Lipreading fills in the gaps hearing aids miss. I still get stuck on words but I have ways around that now too. I use my remaining hearing to aid speechreading, they work together.

My speechreading ability depends on a few things:
~Advocating for my needs and making sure the other person knows I use lipreading. I often tell grocery store clerks, “I hear enough to know you are talking but I use lipreading to hear.”
~Whether or not I’m tired. My brain works lightning fast piecing together what I heard and saw all while using deduction to make sure it fits into a proper sentence/thought. If I’m tired, or sick, it’s hard penetrate the brain fog and I can’t keep up.
~How well I know the person. I have a harder time with new people but as I get used to people I do better and better.
~How long I’m lipreading. After a two hour meeting my brain is fried and then I go into shutdown mode for an hour or so afterward to recuperate.
~Am I relaxed or uptight? The more relaxed I am the better I do. The harder I try, the worse I get.

It also depends on the speaker, here are some examples….
~Do they talk too fast or too slow? Yes there’s such a thing as too slow and I call it monkey lips. That’s when people over exaggerate their words in slow motion.
~Do they have a mustache that covers their lips?
~Do they keep turning their head? Some people habitually turn away while giving me directions.
~Did they get my attention before speaking? If everyone did this, it would cut down on many a repeat.
~Do they have an accent? Accents shape words a little differently. After a while I can get used to that too but it takes more time.

I think all hard of hearing people use lipreading to a degree but taking the class brings it up to the next level. During my first class I encourage the students to start focusing on lips and tell people they are reading lips, even if they are just starting. Get in the habit of it. For practice, watch the news with low volume and try reading reporters lips. Use captions (which are usually slightly behind) to figure it out. Some reporters are going to be easier to understand than others simply because they form their words better than others.  You might surprise yourself with how much you catch.  To prove that point in class, I’ll turn my back and read a paragraph.  How much did they get? Very little.  When I turn back around, they get a lot more.  We are already doing it.

Chelle

Me and my red hearing aid molds.

 

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Lipreader

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.

lipreading website

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.