Lip reading: “I can’t hear you in the dark”

Apr 10, 2020 | Blog, Hearing Loss

Photo credit: mail_collector licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The only treatments for hearing loss are hearing aids or newer personal sound application products with cochlear implants reserved for those with neural hearing loss, such as those born deaf. The only rehabilitation for hearing loss is lip reading or sign language. Most people with severe hearing loss use lip reading to understand speech. Learning American sign language won’t help because few other than the deaf speak it.

This insightful essay by someone who wears hearing aids but largely uses lip reading to understand what people are saying offers a wonderful insight into what it’s like to use lip reading. Understanding comes from looking at the speaker’s mouth, facial expression, body movements, and of course hand and arm motions and position.

But the room can’t only be quiet. It has to be well-lit, too.

I don’t know that I could learn to lip read. I’ve tried and it’s very difficult for me. Even more reason for me to protect my hearing by avoiding loud noise or inserting ear plugs if I can’t.

And I don’t know what lip readers are going to do now that more people are wearing masks during the COVID-19 epidemic. It’s important to stay safe, but lip readers may be collateral damage.

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