Thought-provoking video shows how hard lipreading can be for deaf people

Those of us 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 us stop and think about it. 

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According to Action on Hearing Loss, over 11 million people in the U.K. have some form of hearing loss. More than 900,000 of them are severely or profoundly deaf, including over 45,000 deaf children.

Many of these people 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.

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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, which for those who can hear pose no problem, make things even harder for lipreaders, such as nightclubs.

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.”

Watch “What It’s Like to Read Lips” below:

For more information on lipreading visit Action on Hearing Loss.

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