I've been lipreading for as long as I can remember...
First a basic lesson in lipreading:
It's interpreting the movements of the lips, face, tongue and sometimes throat. Because of this, many letters are mixed up because they look identical on the lips but not hearing the voiced part, such as p & b, k & g, f & v, and so on. Because of this only about 30% to 40% of words are distinguishable by sight alone.
So.....3 words out of a 10 word sentence....not much eh? That's on a GOOD day! I also use my remaining hearing to "fill in" a bit more...but not much. So you can imagine, it's pretty much a "guessing game" sometimes. If I know the topic, I'm able to follow along a lot easier.
Now on to a few complaints and tips of lipreaders:
* Keep stuff out of your mouth! No cigs, toothpicks, food, pens & pencils, etc!
* Do not move all over, put your hands up in front of your face, or turn away in the middle of a sentence.
* Men, keep your mustache trimmed to the top of your lip. No way I can lipread someone like Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters!
* Men, if us ladies are trying to lipread you....we are NOT flirting!! We're looking at your lips to understand what you're saying....not trying to get your number or get you in bed *shudder*
* Do sit in a well lit area, preferably with the lipreader's back to a light source so your face is not shadowed.
* Don't call us liars! Just because we understood you clearly one day & the next we can't understand anything doesn't make us liars. Maybe the room's noisier, a difficult subject, difficulty concentrating, etc.
* Don't over-enunciate your words! Just speak normally and clearly. It's a Pet Peeve of ours when people start "oooooookaaaaay caaaaannn yooooooou..." Believe me I won't give you a chance to finish that sentence *glare*
* Do get our attention first! A gentle tap on the shoulder, a hand wave, small stomp on the floor or flick the light a few times if we're too far away. Don't throw stuff at us, poke us hard, or the Vulcan Death Grip!
* Don't ask us to lipread someone across the room, in a video or on TV! There's just too many variables to consider, the speakers nuances, language & accent, topic & content.
* Do "help" our understanding by gesturing, facial expressions and the like. Just try not to MIME out the whole movie you're trying to tell me about.
* Don't test our hearing! Don't cover your mouth and say something to see if we could in fact actually hear what you're saying! That's just damn rude! (Well unless you're an Audiologist...)
* Don't assume that all Deaf or Hard of Hearing people can lipread! Ask what's their preferred method of communication is first. Whether it's an interpreter, lipreading, writing back and forth, or even cellphone messages back and forth.
* Don't shout! It just morphs the words and doesn't make anything better!
* Don't imitate us, make fun of us, or correct us! Just because we don't hear the right pronunciation doesn't mean you can make fun of us, start giving us speech lessons or copy our "deaf voice". It's different when I'm with family....well 'cuz that's family LOL!
* Do remember that lipreading takes a lot of concentration and can be very tiring and cause eye-strain and headaches for the lipreader after long periods.
So I hope this helps when you meet a lipreader!
"One finds limits by pushing them" ~ Herbert Simon