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Tactics for Lipreading

Basic Tactics to Improve Communication

We need people to meet us half way.
To be aware of the best way to aid communication

Helpful tactics really can help …

  • Please make sure the light is behind us
  • We need to see the face properly of the person whose mouth we are trying to read
  • Do attract our attention before you start to speak
  • We need to know the subject of the conversation
  • In a group, everyone needs to speak one at a time – use everyday language – and get to the point
  • Break up complex messages into shorter sentences – but speak in whole sentences
  • Background noise needs to be at the minimum
  • Keep the rhythm of the language flowing – but ask a fast speaker to slow down a bit
  • Speak clearly – and perhaps just slightly louder, but do not open your mouth unnaturally.
  • Use natural body language
  • To relay the message – repeat, rephrase or write it down (in that order)

The following are not so helpful …

  • If the light is shining on our faces it is a great strain trying to see your lips which makes the process very tiring
  • If you don’t attract our attention we may not know we are being spoken to – or who, in a group is speaking to us
  • If we don’t know the subject of the conversation where a lot of words are difficult to lipread, we may not fully understand
  • Not getting to the point is tiring and frustrating – so we switch off
  • Using long sentences may mean having to repeat everything, so losing our interest
  • Everyone speaking at once adds to the background noise and we can only look at one person at a time
  • Don’t look down or away, so we cannot see your face.
  • Don’t talk from behind a newspaper or with your hand in front of your face

Possible problems when lipreading …

Only 30-40 percent of speech is lipreadable – therefore we cannot expect to lipread every word. Words and letters can look alike – for example:

  • pose, post, boast, most, moat, boat, mode, bone, moan

All these words have entirely different meanings – so we can easily go off track

Without knowing the subject of a conversation – we may not be able to attach meaning to words we think we have seen or lipread.

Do not get too close or try to speak louder or directly into an ear, it really doesn't help!

Please do not give up trying to communicate.
It is so disheartening for those of us who try hard to be as normal as possible.