Bad lip reading jobs

29 03 2017

bad lip reading in chamonix

Do bad lip reading experiences exist?

I often get asked “What is forensic lip reading?”.

When a lip reader is lip reading, they are usually doing this in real life, face to face, watching a person’s lips, facial expressions, eyes, gestures, body language, and using context to clue themselves into the topic, so that they can understand another person. Many factors affect the lip readability of a person so the outcome is never a perfect translation. If enough of the factors affecting lip reading are present in a meaningful enough way, it all comes together beautifully to make sense to the skilled lip reader.

Forensic lip reading (or speech reading) is the simple transition of the skill of lip reading from real life to media, lip reading CCTV or video clips. Reading lips in 2D is much harder than reading lips in real life 3D because so many clues are missing. This makes for a bad lip reading experience for the lip reader. So many people assume, just because our lip readers can read lips, we can lip read anything you send us. We get so many videos that are #FAILs when we see them. So how can we make this a better experience for the lip reader?


How accurate is AI lip reading? A deaf perspective

22 03 2017

lip reading lips

How accurate is lip reading – AI vs. Professionals

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are again making a big splash in the news. This time with AI sinking its virtual teeth into lip reading. Researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK in collaboration with Google’s Deepmind has developed a system they claim can lip read more accurately than humans.

Lip reading has been one of the most prominent areas of research for the past decade. The main focus having been on overcoming the shortcomings in audio recognition in noisy environments.

Most recently, however, the focus is firmly planted on speech recognition algorithms and how such systems could help people who are deaf or hard of hearing have better access to television through accurate real-time subtitling.

I won’t lie to you when I first saw the news title ‘AI has beaten humans at lip reading’. I had to choke back a laugh.


Lipreading the dregs of history

19 07 2015

It is with great disappointment that we have seen a video from the Royal Archives of the Queen and Queen Mother published in the newspapers with an attempted lipreading translation of the footage.

As expert witness forensic lipreaders, working with the courts and police in the UK and internationally, we are well qualified to comment on this video. Several of our expert lipreaders have examined this footage and our professional conclusion is that this footage is not lipreadable due to the very grainy resolution and distance from the video camera. This video is of such poor quality that it is not lipreadable – at all. Therefore it is not possible to have lipread and to come up with the comments that were published today.

Lipreading is a difficult skill to learn however it is subject to misinterpretation. When lipreading, only up to 30% of speech can actually be seen on the lips. The rest is inferred from the context of what is being said, therefore an excellent knowledge of the language is required.

Have a look in the mirror and say, without voice, “island view” and “I love you” – it is very common in lipreading to have such homophenes (words that look alike). This makes a lipreader’s job much more difficult, particularly so when you have very few words to work with.

Lipreading is not a reliable form of evidence in court and great care must be taken when using it. One of our lipreaders was involved in a quality check of the lipreading skills of Jessica Rees. Independently of two other lipreaders, they all came to the same conclusion, with no prior knowledge, that none of the key words matched the report created by Jessica Rees.

We have been following the reactions on the news and social media, it seems this is not a “wave”, however it must be pointed out that professional forensic lipreaders are not body language experts and it would be unprofessional to comment on this aspect.

The 121 Captions forensic lipreading team

Who’s the best lipreader of all?

28 02 2015


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!

Lipreading mobile phone

18 03 2010

A prototype lip reading mobile phone promises to end noisy phone calls. The technology allows people to have silent phone conversations by measuring the tiny electrical signals produced by muscles used when someone speaks.

The phone can record these pulses even when a person does not audibly utter any words and use them to generate synthesised speech in another handset.

The device was on show at the Cebit electronics fair (2-6 March) in Germany. It relies on a technique called electromyography which detects the electrical signals from muscles. It is commonly used to diagnose certain diseases, including those that involve nerve damage.

The prototype that was on display in Germany uses nine electrodes that are stuck to a user’s face. These capture the electrical potentials that result from moving the articulatory muscles used to produce speech. The electrical pulses are then passed to a device which records and amplifies them before transmitting the signal via Bluetooth to a laptop. There, software translates the signals into text, which can then be spoken by a synthesiser. In the future, the technology could be packed in a mobile phone for instantaneous communication. It could also form the basis of an instant translation system.

It is not the first time that electromyography has been explored for silent communication. The US space agency Nasa has investigated the technique for communicating in noisy environments such as the Space Station. It has also used the technique to explore advanced flight control systems that do away with joysticks and other interfaces. Nasa explored the technique to understand simple commands. The difference with this prototype  is that continually spoken sentences can be recorded and recognised.

Source BBC News

Exciting, eh? More electrodes for me! Although how Text Relay would cope with this, poses an interesting question …

Research on Lipreading Regional Accents

11 02 2009

RLRA (Research on Lipreading Regional Accents) is a social research site to help lipreaders in today’s society and for society to understand about the world of lipreading.

Facebook group

Calling all Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Geordie and Scouse accented speakers. Deaf, HOH or of normal hearing. Please take part in the Initial Survey. RLRA needs you.

I did the survey and there is one question that will prove difficult for everyone to answer: “Please select the percentage of hearing loss that you have”. Hearing loss isn’t measured in terms of percentages, it’s measured in decibels, and there is no conversion scale to enable me to ‘convert’ my hearing loss. Oops.

RLRA has a blog – you need to create an account to be able to leave a comment.

Government response to lipreading petition

22 11 2008

The UK government received a petition asking:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise that lip-reading is an essential life-skill for the deaf and hard of hearing and therefore that adult education lip-reading courses should be funded in the same way as other life skills.”

Details of Petition:

“As you become deaf, you become isolated in a world of silence where you are ignored by the hearing majority and unable to communicate with them. Without alternative life skills including lip-reading, you eventually withdraw from society. A thirty week lip-reading course in Essex now costs £186. This has caused most courses to close, remaining courses to be under-subscribed and a large number of deaf people to be cast out into an uncaring world without the ability to communicate with others.”

The government’s response –

The Government recognises that lip reading is an important skill for some people with hearing impairment and recognises that many people wanting to take up lip reading courses face barriers, both physical and financial in accessing learning. Full fee remission is provided to learners on Learning and Skills Council (LSC) funded Further Education (FE) courses where they are in receipt of income based benefits. In addition to this some FE colleges and providers can use their discretion to waive fees. They may choose to do so where a learner is undertaking a lip-reading course and has declared themselves as having a learning difficulty and / or disabilities; for example where a learner is hearing impaired.

In 2004/05 (the latest date for which figures are available), 81% of FE funded lip reading learners paid no fee due either to national policy or by having their fees waived at the discretion of the college or other provider.

Some very basic, introductory level lip reading courses may be offered informally outside of the LSC FE funding structure as part of family learning courses or personal and community development learning. In these cases the cost of learning will be a local decision.

Skills for Life (the Government’s adult basic skills strategy) covers literacy, numeracy and language (ESOL) learning up to Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE A – C grades). Literacy and numeracy learning is free of charge to all adults (people aged 16+) with literacy/numeracy skills below Level 2.

The Government has considered whether lip reading should be classified as a “Basic Skill” and therefore part of the Skills for Life strategy, but concluded that lip reading should not be classified as basic skills due to a number of points:

· Substantial numbers of people who do not themselves have hearing impairments undertake lip reading and especially signing courses for a variety of reasons (for example, carers seeking employment), or for general interest;

· The Government has defined “Basic Skills” in terms of national standards of literacy and numeracy, and lip reading/signing courses are not linked to these standards;

. “Basic Skills” can reasonably be regarded as those that virtually the whole population should possess. While lip reading may be valuable, and even essential for some learners, it is not a skill that all people might be expected to possess; and

It has not been considered reasonable to reclassify lip reading courses without including other communication skills, which form a significant volume of provision.

My response

I’m most annoyed. They have misunderstood the petition and don’t seem to realise that lipreading is a NECESSITY for most deaf and hard of hearing people, ergo it is a basic life skill for this large group of people, almost 1 in 7 of the UK population. If hearing people want to learn lipreading as well, well that’s up to them (I have never come across any hearing students when teaching my lipreading classses), but does not take away from the fact that for most deaf people, lipreading is a basic life skill. By this government’s reasoning, I agree that lipreading does not fit into their Skills for Life strategy. I do however, think that their Skills for Life strategy needs a rethink.

Lipreading classes petition

30 09 2008

Yesterday at the LINK Convention, during a presentation about lipspeaking, we were told about a petition to be presented to 10 Downing Street urging the Government to provide more funding for lipreading classes. One of the basic needs of older people is to be able to communicate to find out about their needs, with a view to staying independently in their own homes. People with a hearing disability are now having to pay to learn lipreading which is their main means of communication and 60% of those over the age of 60 have a significant hearing loss.

See the online petition for details. Please help by signing this petition. The more signatures it has, the greater its chance of being noticed.

Tips for clear lipreading

8 09 2008

Thinking about my last post, ‘Read my lips carefully’, I reckon a picture says a thousand words. I was delighted to come across this advert, which gets the message of clear communication across very nicely. What do you think?

Lipreading is an essential life skill therefore why should classes be so expensive?

9 06 2008

As you become deaf, you become isolated in a world of silence where you are ignored by the hearing majority and unable to communicate with them. Without alternative life skills including lip-reading, you eventually withdraw from society. A thirty week lip-reading course in Essex now costs £186. This has caused most courses to close, remaining courses to be under-subscribed and a large number of deaf people to be cast out into an uncaring world without the ability to communicate with others.

A petition has been set up, to recognise that lip-reading is an essential life-skill for the deaf and hard of hearing and therefore that adult education lip-reading courses should be funded in the same way as other life skills.

Sign the petition HERE

Deadline : 12 September 2008