Reading lips as a communication tool is one of the most challenging concepts for the hearing population to understand. One lip-reading misconception is that it is an assumed skill of every D/deaf and Hard of Hearing person. People think they were born with the ability or learned it at a young age. Another lip-reading misconceptions is that all information assessed through lipreading is accurate. Even if the D/deaf person says they understand, there may still be confusion. Unfortunately, the D/deaf person may think they understood the proceedings fully when in fact they did not. In an extreme example, “vacuum” and “F&%! you” look the same when lip-reading. The D/deaf individual may have understood one of those words, but clearly they have two (2) different meanings.
There are many challenges to lipreading. It is complicated to track conversation when several people are talking at the same time. Many times, when a lip-reading misunderstanding occurs, people conclude the D/deaf or Hard of Hearing person lacks intelligence. Instead, perhaps they simply did not catch the information. People who can hear are exposed to every spoken detail in verbal communication. So they do not always realize that missing just a small piece of information can cause a huge misunderstanding. A sign language interpreter provides complete access to audible information that might otherwise be missed or mistaken.
Factors Influence Lip-Reading Ability
How those who are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing choose to communicate is complex. There are several factors that go into decisions about which mode of communication to use. Each person with a hearing loss is different. Ability may be influenced by the following:
- Degree of hearing loss
- upbringing and lifestyle
- access to learning lip-reading and quality/quantity of practice
- educational level (extent of learned vocabulary)
Some D/deaf children attend oral schools where they are taught to lip-read. However, when D/deaf children become adults they are not able to practice their lip-reading skills as much, and often fluency is lost. At this time, they commonly learn sign language and/or use it more regularly than English.
Enjoy this YouTube video providing some humor of Bad Lip Reading.
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