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Lipreading: Extra Help At No Extra Charge

A newsletter for our patients, their families and friends

Are you a good lipreader? Most people with hearing loss are good lipreaders, even if they don’t know it. And when you use those lipreading skills, your understanding of speech goes up by about 30%!

Almost everyone “hears better” when they are looking at the person talking. And you don’t need special lessons or classes in order to benefit from lipreading. Fortunately, the sounds that are hardest to hear are also the ones that are easiest to lipread.

For example, “f”as in “fin” and “p” as in “pin” are difficult to hear because they are soft, high-pitched sounds. But these same sounds are easy to lipread because they’re made with the lip and tongue, and are very visible. With the help of lipreading, it’s fairly easy to “hear” the difference between “fin” and “pin.”

Vowels are more difficult to lipread-but usually much easier to hear.

And lipreading happens automatically. You don’t have to think about how “f” looks different from “p”. You don’t need to take special classes. But you do have to be able to see the person who’s talking!

Test your lipreading skills

With your eyes closed, adjust the volume of your television to a very soft level. You should be able to hear the sound, but not understand the voices. Now open your eyes and see how much more you can understand. That’s the difference lipreading makes.

Lipreading tips:

  • Ask the speaker to get your attention before starting a conversation.
  • Make sure you can see the speaker’s face. You can’t read lips from another room or if the person is turned away from you!
  • Watch the speaker’s face, not just the lips. Facial expressions and gestures often give important clues.
  • Concentrate on the general conversation rather than individual sounds and words.
  • Concentrate on how much you understand, not on what you miss.

Lip reading can be a great source of help. It’s almost like having a third hearing aid – and it’s free!