What is Lipreading?
Lipreading is a technique many people use (whether they are aware of it or not) to understand information conveyed through speech.
By focusing on a person’s lips as they speak and learning certain curvatures of the mouth which correlate to words or letters in the alphabet, one can understand, to an extent, what is being said.
Deaf and hard of hearing people especially use this technique as they cannot rely on their hearing to fully comprehend a conversation. Lipreading is often used in combination with ASL to get clearer communication across.
Lipreading During the Pandemic
Even though communicating as a deaf or hard of hearing person during the height of the pandemic was challenging, it did produce some positive effects.
Evidently, when the mask mandate began due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lipreading became impossible. This was a very difficult situation for the deaf and hard of hearing community because they were not able to read the lips of non-ASL users.
Although other methods of communication such as gesturing or writing can be used, they are tedious and inefficient for conversing. Additionally, various transparent masks have been proposed, but these do not ultimately help a deaf/HoH person read lips as the mask fogs up.
Even though communicating as a deaf or hard of hearing person during the height of the pandemic was challenging, it did produce some positive effects. Some hearing people (especially those in the customer or food services) realized the difficulty of this situation for the deaf community and took it upon themselves to learn simple signs that could make a transaction with deaf people simpler.
As vaccines continue to be distributed, COVID-19 cases decline, and masks become optional, deaf and hard of hearing people will be able to resume using lipreading and communicating in a manner that is more comfortable for them.
What YOU can do!
Lipreading is very widely used and has many benefits to being able to understand sentences as a deaf/HoH person. When interacting with a deaf/HoH person, remember to speak at a normal volume and move your lips and mouth in the way you normally would so they can properly read your lips. It is important to do your part as a hearing person to understand the difficulty of lipreading and make it easier for those who use it to read your lips.
Stay tuned to our website for new posts in the Sign Language and Communication series every Thursday (the exception is there will be no post on 7/29)!
By: Ashley Theisen and Blessing Fonge