This section may help if you have a hearing loss and would like to learn more about lip-reading.
Everyone lipreads to some extent – especially in noisy situations – although some people are better lipreaders than others. When a person speaks to you, their facial expressions can help you understand what they are saying – for instance, it is often clear when someone is asking a question.
If you have a hearing loss, the balance between what you hear and what you see may change over time. If your hearing gets worse, you may come to rely more on lip-reading.
Most audiologists recommend that people of all ages, with any degree of hearing loss, learn to improve their lipreading skills.
Lip-reading helps improve communication with other people, especially in noisy situations. It is also a good way of doing something positive and practical about your hearing loss.
Lip-reading works best when used with the communication tactics already mentioned – finding a quiet place to chat, making sure the speaker's face is not in shadow etc.
Some people find it more difficult than others to lipread effectively. How quickly you gain the skill and confidence will depend on your ability and degree of hearing loss – as well as how keen you are to learn.
Successful lipreading requires skill and concentration – so it will help if you relax. Unfortunately, many words look similar on the lips – for example, those starting with 'b', 'p' and 'm', and those with 'sh', 'ch' and 'j'. Some sounds, such as 'k' and 'g', are pronounced at the back of the throat and have no visible shape on the lips. Some phrases look similar too. For example, it is easy to mistake "biscuits" for "big kiss", which could be embarrassing!
The way other people speak can affect how well you are able to lipread of course. Some people just don't speak clearly, and lipreading someone with an unfamiliar accent may be tricky too. It can also be difficult to lipread someone with a heavy beard or large moustache.
You possibly have opportunities to go to classes locally. Contact your local education authority (LEA) for details.
Lipreading classes are informal, fun and friendly, and are taught by a qualified teacher of lipreading to adults. It's not like going back to school - the teacher will encourage you to have a laugh and to relax.
It's best to learn to lipread with other people, but there are plenty of books, videos and DVDs about lipreading.
‘Watch this face - a practical guide to lipreading’ uses lots of exercises to help you lipread a range of words and phrases .