10 Common Myths About Lip-Reading
When it comes to communicating through hearing loss, one of the best tools at your disposal is learning to lip-read. In the right lighting and with your conversation partner’s face in view, it can be an effective strategy.
There are, however, a lot of assumptions people might make about lip-reading that are false – take a look at these myths.
Myth #1 – It’s easy to pick up most of what’s said.
While experienced lip-readers can pick up a good amount of words, generally speaking, only as much as about 60 percent can be picked up in a given sentence, leaving several words incomprehensible.
Myth #2 – They’re just focusing on my lip movement.
When someone who has experienced hearing loss is utilizing lip-reading, he or she isn’t just focusing on their conversation partner’s lips – tongue and teeth movement also play a role in deciphering unheard sounds.
Myth #3 – Everyone lip-reads at relatively the same level.
There’s a learning curve when it comes to lip-reading. A person can be more or less “fluent” at it than others, and those who experienced hearing loss after a period of hearing at an age old enough to recall tend to find lip-reading easier than those who’ve never had full hearing capability.
Myth #4 – Context isn’t as important when looking for visual cues.
The truth is, a lot of sounds create the same visual “look” – such as the “th” and “f” sounds – so lip-readers will look to outside cues and context to understand which words were being used.
Myth #5 – The longer the information, the more difficult it is to lip-read.
This is the opposite, actually. When someone speaks quick, interjectory bits of information, there is no context or sentence flow to work with to fill in the gaps of any missed words. That’s why complete thoughts and sentences work best.
Myth #6 – The louder I speak, the easier I am to lip-read.
The truth is, when speakers whisper, they tend to slow down their enunciation, making their vowels elongated and more pronounced and generally making lip-reading even easier than a normal speaking voice.
Myth #7 – Lip-reading comes naturally.
While some people might pick up the ability to lip-read with relative ease, it’s not an innate ability – it can take some practice, time and frustration before you become “fluent” and feel comfortable relying on lip-reading.
Myth #8 – Lip-reading is universal.
Something as simple as a regional dialect can truly throw off a lip-reading hard of hearing person. People who speak with different accents move their mouths, teeth and tongues differently than a regional native.
Myth #9 – If I can hear, there’s no need to learn to lip-read.
If you have a hard of hearing person in your life, it can be helpful to teach yourself to lip-read as well – it offers you insight into what your friend or loved one is going through and makes you more aware of your pronunciation when speaking. (Plus, lip-reading in hearing people makes for better communicators in day-to-day conversations.)
Myth #10 – Lip-reading can’t be taught.
While real-world experience and practice are some of the best tools at a hard of hearing person’s disposal when it comes to lip-reading, there are also educational resources available in books, websites, video tutorials, etc., that can boost your skills.
If you’re ready to start lip-reading, practice makes perfect, do your homework and remember that not all assumptions about the process are true!