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What it’s like to lipread

People with no hearing difficulties rarely give any thought to what it would be like to have to rely on lipreading to communicate with others. But a new video makes people stop and think about it.

Many of the 11 million people (according to Action on Hearing Loss) in the UK who have some form of hearing loss depend on lipreading to communicate with family, friends and colleagues.

A powerful video from National Geographic, made by the Little Moving Pictures production company, shows what life can be like for those who use lipreading — and it’s definitely not easy.  But if you attend a lipreading class, you will find help and support!

The video begins with people speaking clearly, as subtitles flash up on the screen. Gradually their words become quieter and the subtitles blurred.

The footage also shows how different situations, such as nightclubs, which pose no problem for those who can hear, make things even harder for lipreaders, .

The video is based on the essay “Seeing at the Speed of Sound” by Rachel Kolb, who also narrates and stars in the piece.

At the end of the video Kolb tells viewers how frustrating lipreading can be.

“There have been times when I’ve questioned why I even try to lipread, to wade through this swamp, when I could just use sign language,” she says. “Some deaf people choose to do just that. It’s like a different world — a world filled with rich expression and culture. When people sign they come alive. But I know I want both worlds.”

Go to Learn to lipread to find a lipreading class near you.

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