Many people think lip reading is an easy skill to master. It’s not. First of all, statistics show only about 30-40% of all spoken sounds are seen on the lips or tongue in the English language. That means the less you hear, the more guessing you must do to keep up with a conversation.
Clearly, if you hear nothing, you’ll be guessing more than half the time. Then, factor in tongue, lip and mouth deformities, accents, mustaches, beards, nervous oral habits, bad lighting, background noises that drown out what little speech sounds you hear, people who cover their mouths while speaking and those who turn away. Iit’s virtually impossible to lip read with 100% accuracy.
Over the past several decades Hollywood has perpetuated the myth of super human lip reading through telescopes a mile away, which is downright laughable. You need to see the tongue and throat as well as the lips, which means you need to be fairly close. The smaller the mouth view the harder it is to see tongue movement or shadowy bulges on the throat.
Here are the realities. With the use of hearing aids I hear more speech sounds than without, and if you face me, I have a better chance of understanding what you say than if you don’t. If I know you, my chances of lip reading you accurately goes way up. When I’m tired, my lip reading skills suffer because of the great concentration required and all the blanks needing filled. So yeah– I lip read some, I hear some, I guess some.
If you’re still interested in lip reading I do not mean to discourage you. It’s a great tool that can enhance communication, but that’s all.
For more information about lip reading please see these sites: