by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady asked:
Is there any difference between lipreading and speechreading?
Yes and no. How’s that for an answer?
Technically, lipreading is watching the lips to extract whatever speech information you can, while speechreading is watching the lips, tongue, teeth, cheeks, eyes, facial expressions, gestures, body language and anything else that gives clues as to what the person is saying. Thus speechreading encompasses lipreading, plus much more.
For example, a person impatiently drumming her fingers on the table, a person nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot, a person pointing at a certain place or a person with a quizzical expression on his face certainly aren’t part of lipreading, but they are part of speechreading as these actions are all part of what the person is communicating.
Looking at it from the historical perspective gives a totally different answer. This is because speechreading is the newer term now used in the USA and Canada for what we formerly called lipreading. You see, in the UK, they still use the older term lipreading, but they really mean speechreading. Furthermore, those of us who have talked about lipreading for the past several decades find it difficult to give up this term. For example, while I try to use the term speechreading, at times I slip up and revert to calling it lipreading. Thus, in practical terms lipreading and speechreading both really refer to the same thing.
To learn more about speechreading, read our article Speechreading (Lipreading).