Speech Reading
(aka Lip Reading)

What Is It?

Speech reading is often used synonymously with the term lip reading. Speech reading is using what you see on the speaker’s lips as well as facial expressions and gestures to understand conversation. One reason phone conversations can be particularly difficult for a hard of hearing person is the lack of a face to “read.” On the other hand, everyone, even those with normal hearing, uses visual cues. Next time you are in a very noisy room, notice how closely everyone watches as well as listens to understand.

What Is It Not?

Learning to speech read is not a quick and simple cure. It takes time and effort to become proficient. It is best taught with other communication strategies such as manipulating the environment and learning effective conversation repair skills.

Who Needs It?

People with hearing loss can use speech reading to supplement understanding when they have trouble understanding or hearing speech. Often those speech sounds that are hard to hear are easy to see, like a softly spoken “p” sound. The more severe the hearing loss or the more noisy the environment, the more likely one can benefit from speech reading.

Family and close friends who are frequent communication partners of a person with hearing loss can also benefit from training in ways to make their speech more easily understood. Everyone meeting together in sessions is the best way to improve.

When Should I Start?

Now is the best time to begin training to improve your speech reading.

Where Can I Learn More?

Most people with hearing loss pick up some speech reading on their own. Training and practice can improve those skills. Some speech pathologists and audiologists will provide training. Ask your hearing loss professional about speech reading options near you.

Some Web Resources

Gallaudet University – Resources to develop speechreading skills

Mark Ross article