Lipreading has become a rather commercial activity in the last few years. I’ve been asked to lipread celebrities at royal weddings, the Royals at royal weddings, babies and parents at royal christenings, criminals, sports people, and even the unsuspecting public.
I was born deaf and I have always been a lipreader. I am now totally deaf with 2 cochlear implants, yet I retain my lipreading skills. I am able to lipread most people I meet, lipread sideways, and even fool a lot of people into thinking I am a hearing person. I believe lipreading is not a science, it is an art. An art I have honed over many years, in many situations, in many different countries with various accents. My life experience of travelling around the world and “getting on with it” has served to make me a better lipreader. I can even lipread in Spanish, Japanese and Arabic.
There are days when my brain just “won’t compute” – I can be too tired for lipreading and the mental exercise inherent within, or my brain might just say “no”, or I may mentally get stuck and see a phrase which I know is not correct from the context of the language.
Forensic lipreading is even harder, as there is no sound at all, and often the screen view is very small. You are watching video footage over and over and over, sometimes a hundred times over, for perhaps a five second segment of footage, just to get that one word so that the whole sentence makes sense. You really can’t do this with a foreign language that you do not know.
Sometimes people tell me they are the best lipreader in the world. How do you think they are able to make that claim? Don’t you think it’s a bit presumptuous?
I’d love to hear what you think, please comment!