How To Improve Your Lipreading Skills Online

Living with hearing loss, I have always wanted to take a lipreading course, but was never able to find one in New York City that worked with my schedule. So when I learned about a new online tutorial created by the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL), I was excited to give it a go. Read My Lips is a self-paced online course that uses videos, exercises, and quizzes to demonstrate and teach basic lipreading skills.

I consider myself a good lipreader, but most of my knowledge has come intuitively, driven by necessity. Taking the Read My Lips classes helped me gain a firmer understanding of the basic lip, tongue and jaw movements involved in many letter sounds. Knowing the mechanics of how the sounds are made can only improve my skills. I am glad I took the course.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

What is Lipreading?

According to Wikipedia, “Lipreading or speechreading is a technique of understanding speech by visually interpreting the movement of the lips, face and tongue.” Most people with hearing loss use lipreading to aid with communication, even if they are not aware they are doing so. The ability to lipread comes naturally to some people, while others struggle with it. Training and practice can improve lipreading skills over time.

Some people are easier to lipread than others which makes it difficult to rely on lipreading alone for communication, although, some of my hearing loss friends are quite skilled at it. I am in awe of their powers of observation and concentration. For me, if I know the context and a space is well-lit, a combination of my aided residual hearing and lipreading can get me a large portion of the way towards understanding. It does require a lot of concentration and mental energy to do it well.

Helpful Online Lipreading Course

The Read My Lips on-line course is divided into eight lessons, each focused on a set of letters that appear similarly on the lips and face. They include: (1) F, V, Ph; (2) P, B, M; (3) Th; (4) W, Wh; (5) Sh, Ch; (6) L; (7) T, D, N; and (8) J (Soft G).

For each letter group, a captioned video demonstrates and explains how the sound is made. For example, “For the “J (Soft G)” lip movement your teeth are just about touching, but the lips are forward in a rounded-square shape to show your teeth.”

Students then practice the skill using a series of additional videos with different people mouthing relevant words or phrases. After watching each video, you choose which of the written answers below matches what is being said. You can watch the videos (taken from two different angles) as many times as needed before making your selection. The videos have no audible dialogue, but having the written words/phrases below is a big help.

Several “speakers” — two men and two women — are used for the videos to add variety and a does of reality. Each person had different sized lips and their own unique way of speaking. Some were easier for me to lipread than others, as might be expected.

Some of the lipreading exercises provided a topic area for context while others did not, once again demonstrating how much easier it is to communicate when context is provided up front.

At the end of each lesson, there is a quiz to make sure you can properly identify the lip movements associated with each sound pattern. An 80% score is required on each quiz to successfully complete the course.

Read My Lips costs C$49 for 6-months of access to the course. After I successfully finished the eight lessons, including passing each of the quizzes, I received a certificate of completion. I look forward to putting my enhanced lipreading skills to the test in real life.

Readers, would you take an online speechreading class?

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18 thoughts on “How To Improve Your Lipreading Skills Online

  1. An interesting idea. However I think sometimes using methods like this makes me listen less. I have a hearing aid and a CI. When I watch TV I use captioning. But sometimes I don’t look at the captioning and just listen – I realized that I sometimes stop listening and only read captions. It’s really important to not lose our listening skills because of all of these wonderful methods we have to assist.

  2. Not thrilled

    Lip reading is more correctly called “speech reading”.

    It is very difficult to learn this skill, especially if you are late-deafened.

    I’m a speech pathologist, who has taught speech reading.

    I cannot do it!

    Many speech sounds are produced in back of mouth (such as…k,g, ts), which makes it very difficult to read!

    I would not pay $49 now.

    Thanks for sharing this info. There are several other courses, for auditory training, such as LACE.

    At this point, not for me.


  3. Hmmm…having tried Angel Voice, which was lots of work but didn’t seem to help my ability to participate in small groups discussing technical stuff, I’m reluctant to shell out $49 and lots of time. I’ve spent lots of money since my residual hearing went south in May, and I’ve yet to be able to walk into a meeting with confidence. Some of the tech things I’ve bought are virtually useless, even though it took $$ and driving a distance to get them. I’m trying hard to psyche myself up for a four-hour meeting this afternoon…perhaps I’ll be more willing to risk more money on “fixes” tomorrow.

  4. It’s great that resources like this are available today.When I went deaf there was no internet, but I found that I had some, almost “natural” ability to lip read. I went deaf fairly suddenly following an illness many years ago and although I couldn’t hear speech, because hearing aids were analogue and just planted every sound they amplified into my ears they weren’t a great help in understanding speech.

    I did find that with practice though that I could piece together some of what was said.

  5. I acquired lipreading as a child because no one knew that I couldn’t hear until I was almost 7. I was mistaken for being slow. I was delayed in my speech too.

  6. Many years ago I bought a book on lip reading. It was a very good book. However, half way through it, I noticed things in the book that just was not right. Then the author explained that because of different accents through out the country, the words may be formed differently. The author lived on the East Coast. (I don’t remember where) I live on the West Coast somewhere north of Seattle. It was still a good book and helped me out a lot. But it wasn’t perfect.

    That online class may be the greatest thing there is. I don’t know. But keep in mind the different accents.

    • Interesting point about the accents. That is probably true. I don’t think any method is perfect. I try to learn what I can from many different sources in hopes it will help me communicate more effectively. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • These are not accents…they are dialects, or “regionalism”, because English is being spoken.

      English is one language, with many dislects.

      Accents …pertain to different languages.

      Regional dialects can look different, on people who speak English with different dialects (regionalisms).

  7. Even with incredible hearing aids that have enhanced my life in many ways, I still have difficulty in differentiating consonants. Your blog made me realize that lip reading can be an important tool to improve hearing clarity.

    I know that each person is different, but on average how many weeks did you spend on each online lip reading lesson; how many hours per day?

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring me.

    • Different sections took different amounts of time based more on my schedule than anything else. It is so personal. If you decide to try it, start slowly and pace yourself. The lessons take a lot of concentration but I enjoyed them as well. Thank you for your question.

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