Lipreading Practice

Talk to The Worshipful Company of Educators (members initiatives) - Gresham college London

March 2014

This was a members’ initiatives presentation to the Worshipful Company of Educators which I had just become a freeman. It explained my work to help people who wanted to acquire lipreading skills and demonstrated what it was like to try to lipread with no voice from the speaker. At this time the website was not complete but it was already page 1 of Google where it remains to this day. 31st March 2014.

Good evening. I would like you to think for a moment of all the things that you have listened to today. Did you hear your alarm clock this morning? Did you hear the telephone and the doorbell ring? Did you hear your children or grandchildren speaking or singing? Some of you like me may have a hearing loss and it may have been a long time since you heard these sounds. Did you know that 1 in 7 people have a hearing loss in the UK and this rises to I in 5 in older age groups. That is a large number of people some of whom are of employment age.

Deafness and being hard of hearing is one of the hidden handicaps. It cannot easily be seen and not hearing what has been said is sometimes attributed to being stuck up, stupid or rude. I’m not sure which is worse. One of the results of this, is that hard of hearing people can become isolated, lose their self esteem

Hearing aids help but for those with a severe hearing loss they are not the complete answer. People ask why don’t you learn to sign - Well the fact is that many deafened people belong in the hearing world and do not know many, if any, others who sign. For them learning to lipread can be a lifeline that helps them to cope in the real world. It is not a magic wand because it is not precise. There are many pitfalls that can cause a few problems with interpreting what is being lipread. Many sounds look the similar on the lips causing confusion and few laughs at our expense and some scrapes.

My background is primary education but since 2006 I have taught lipreading and in this short space of time I have seen the provision of lipreading classes shrink.
Provision is not the same across the country – some counties have many classes and others have very few.

I wanted to do something to help and so the idea of creating a website was born. The result is (www.)
Lipreading practice went live last March and I have been staggered by its success.
My aims were to demonstrate the value of lip reading in everyday life and to provide an opportunity to practise in a safe environment. Most importantly the site had to be free to use! I also hope that the users will be motivated to go to a lipreading class. The programme aims to demonstrate how the sounds are formed on the lips and mouth thus giving lipreaders something to look for when lipreading. There are words and exercises to practise sound recognition and passages at both beginner and developmental levels to practise following a passage of prose. This helps lipreaders to develop other necessary skills for lipreading such as anticipation and thinking sideways. They also practise recognising rhythm. Our language is full of stress and emphasis and has rhythm which we can often recognise subconsciously. Hello - how are you?

Useful phrases that can be used and adapted to practise what might be heard in various scenarios, for example going to the doctor, are also featured. Everyday activities can be very stressful for those who have a hearing loss and any preparation for these situations helps to make the situation better.

I research and write all the material, plus add information and tips on lip reading and useful resources with links to other websites. Then am filmed presenting the material. After checking the video clips, subtitles to synchronise with my speech are put in and everything checked. I especially wanted to use removable subtitles so that the work could be self-correcting. It is a time consuming process but I hope the website is going to be very helpful to all who use it so far it has been very well received.

When thinking of hard of hearing people there is a tendency to think of older people but many younger people have hearing losses too. This has a great impact on their lives both socially and in their working environment. In today’s world more is being done to make the work place safer by using new technology for alarms etc but there is still room for improvement in the field of deaf awareness, and again this varies. Sometimes people take early retirement because their hearing makes performing their roles very difficult. With better support the hard of hearing can make a valuable contribution to society and improve their self-esteem and image.


Finally the response to the website has been amazing!

I am now corresponding with people, some of whom are professionals, in Italy, France, Spain, Australia and the USA. I have been amazed and thrilled to know that both young and older people are using it and also that it is helping people who have had cochlear implants to practise their lipreading skills and is being used to help stroke victims to develop their communication skills.

Through learning to lipread and finding strategies that work for us in everyday situations we can all have more independence and will be better able to contribute to society.

I hope that everyone who uses “lipreading practice” finds it helpful and that where possible it encourages them to go to lipreading classes. The expertise of the tutor and the support and friendship of the group members can be fantastic whilst practising in a group can add to individual confidence.

I would like you try a little lipreading. First try to lipread these few sentences.

Here’s a clue it is about me.


“I am Gloria McGregor and I live in Essex.

I have been a teacher since 1965 and mostly taught primary children.

Now, I work with adults and we have fun learning to lipread.”

How did you get on?

“I’m Gloria McGregor and I live in Essex.

I have been a teacher since 1965 and mostly taught primary children.

Now I work with adults and we have fun learning to lipread.”

Knowing the CONTEXT is one of the most important parts of lipreading!!

Here is a game that we sometimes play. In my bag I have some objects that relate to going on holiday. I would like you to see if you can lipread them I will then show you the object and you will see if you were right.

In my bag I have

Were you right?

I am working with Essex Hearing Planning Group to promote lipreading classes in Essex and I shall continue, as long as I can, to promote lip reading for all who need it! Please help me by telling anyone you know who may benefit from this website and from going to a lipreading class. Thank you very much for listening.



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