by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
My hearing has decreased considerably these past few years. I ordered your “Seeing and Hearing Speech” CD recently to help me understand conversations better. I have been trying to read peoples’ lips for some time now and the lessons are helping, although I am still on the vowels.
Personally, I’d start with the easier consonants, then go to the harder consonants and finally to the vowels—or do some of each. That way you will seem to progress faster. The consonants are typically easier to speechread as you watch for the movement of the lips and jaw. Vowels have no movement in themselves. They are formed by the shape of the mouth.
This lady continues: “I feel I make who ever I am listening to uncomfortable because I avoid eye contact in trying to read their lips.”
You should be looking at both the speaker’s eyes and mouth when you are speechreading. Don’t just focus on the mouth. You get a lot of information from the eyes too. In fact, I have a lot of difficulty speechreading people when they are wearing sunglasses. So do other speechreaders I’ve talked to. My solution? As funny as it sounds, I ask them to take off their sunglasses so I can hear them better!
You can learn more about speechreading in this article I wrote on “Speechreading“.