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





Eyes wide shut

27 01 2012

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I booked a third AVT session (Auditory Verbal Therapy) and Rashed came along to watch. My therapist Jacqueline took me through the Ling 6 sounds, saying each sound and repeating it, then giving me pairs, then sets of three. I was fine with AH, SH, S, but I got confused with the set of EE, MM, and OO. Need more practice!

We then moved on to closed sets of words. This means that Jacqueline will give me words that I expect to hear. I chose numbers between one and ten. Jacqueline sat behind me (as she knows I can lipread round corners) and gave me random numbers. I repeated them all back to her. I got them all right, but confused ONE and NINE … but I got that right after a little practice.

We worked on another set; transport. Jacqueline threw words at me, such as BUS, TRAIN, BICYCLE, TRICYCLE, AEROPLANE… out of 20, I got them all right except for two or three. I practised recognising the word by thinking about the sound of the word and not the shape. Being a lifelong lipreader, I automatically figure out what a word is by thinking about what makes sense and what doesn’t within a word and within the context of a sentence, what I am expecting to hear, and thinking about the shape that fits.  It’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime. But thinking about the sounds, it was easier to understand what I was hearing.

We moved on to short sentences, and I surprised myself by being able to understand what had been said. Rashed sat opposite me and gave me some sentences, I listened and repeated these after him, then I responded to questions. Jacqueline joined in, and before I knew it, we were having a three-way conversation. With my eyes wide shut!

(Someone fell off his chair in shock)





Required: Teacher co-ordinator lipreading teacher training, London UK

7 09 2011

Job advert: 0.2 Teacher Coordinator Lipreading Teacher Training (fixed term until 30 June 2013)

7 hours per week

£32,316-£36,018 pa pro rata inclusive of London Weighting

8.4 weeks annual leave

Do you have 3 years experience of teaching lipreading to adults of mixed ability in group settings and are you able to co-ordinate the delivery of a teaching programme? Are you qualified with a *CTLLS (willing to become a fully qualified teacher) with a relevant qualification to the subject at level 3 or above?  If you have excellent interpersonal, administrative, IT, ILT and organisational skills, this role could be for you. A commitment to equality and diversity, safeguarding, health and safety, quality and customer care are also essential.

In this role you will be responsible for developing, organising, supervising, teaching and evaluating the Lipreading Teachers’ Training Course and related CPD courses. You will also carry out the necessary administrative and quality assurance procedures.

 (Ref: DE33)

* Please note that where qualifications are cited in the advert, suitable equivalent qualifications will be accepted.

For an application pack please apply online or phone 020 7492 2684.

Closing Date for completed applications: Noon, Friday 23 September 2011

City Lit promotes and values equality and diversity. Based in Covent Garden, City Lit is London’s biggest provider of part-time courses for adults, serving over 24,000 students a year. As a leader in our field, we have a reputation for high quality teaching in a vast range of subjects, as well as award winning work with vulnerable groups.





My Song

12 06 2011

This film demonstrates how I felt growing up, with no one understanding my communication needs. I was given a FM radio system for school and told to get on with it. My social needs were totally disregarded. I know too well, the farce of pretending to understand what’s being said, then being told by my family ‘You can hear perfectly well when you want to’. Being unable to sign, I wasn’t part of a deaf culture either – heck, I didn’t even KNOW such a thing as a deaf culture existed. When I first got to know other deaf people, through Friends for Young Deaf People, the other young deaf people told me that I’m not deaf as I didn’t sign (oh, the irony!).  I just felt so stuck between the deaf and the hearing.  It’s bad enough when hearing people don’t understand and won’t meet you halfway, but when deaf people won’t meet you halfway either, that’s a real kick in the teeth. Deaf people who won’t accept you as a deaf person and deaf people who say you shouldn’t be using sign language – both are reprehensible. We’re all entitled to acceptance and to communicate in our chosen way.

Now that I can sign (not fluent though), lipread and hear, I can live my own life in my own way. I have great friends from both cultures – who can hear, lipread, and sign – and I wouldn’t change this for anything.

Thanks to Billy and Charlie for giving us another blinder!





Are you a lipreader?

31 05 2011

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Test yourself on this video clip – the transcript is next to the clip.

Meet Con Ingham, who speaks but says nothing ….. video after the jump.

You can book an expert lipreader at O’Malley Lipreaders.





Welcome to Everything

13 07 2010

As I settled down into my Airbus 380 seat, I wondered how Emirates would compare to British Arseways. I love watching movies so flicked through the channels. There was the usual selection of languages, quite a larger selection than I was used to, and right at the bottom was a channel for closed captions. A whole movie channel with captions – I was thrilled! I decided to try out the airline’s headphones but there was no sound. I got another pair, tried those, and bingo I could hear all the movie sound effects. With the subtitles, it was magical. The headphones fit over my cochlear implant just like a hearing person would wear them, they picked up the sound directly from Advanced Bionics’ T-mic microphone that sat at the entrance to my ear. No jiggling to get the positioning right to pick up sound. No turning the volume up to the max. It was simple, just put the headphones on and turn up the volume slightly. The cabin crew had been informed I was deaf, and they were super attentive towards me. It’s so nice when a hot guy pours a nice drink, pulls out the table and sets it all up for you with a huge smile …. and just chucks the drinks at the other passengers 🙂

Unfortunately this wasn’t a holiday but a working trip for my deaf awareness training business. (They were amazed that I could lip read them in Arabic. Tee hee.) The Marhaba welcome service whisked us through passport control and I stepped into the 43C heat of Dubai. Although it was hot and dry, every building and car was air conditioned. Walking anywhere was a no-no. Why can’t we have more air conditioning in Britain? The Arabs were super appreciative and welcoming, the food was just great, and I loved working with them. Dubai is like Canary Wharf with beaches, with scorching hot weather thrown in.  A new sound for me was the beep as I used the card to open my hotel room door – I never knew this made a sound. The hotel receptionist just didn’t understand my adjustment needs, that I wouldn’t be able to hear a fire alarm or knock at the door in an emergency, that they would have to enter my room to wake me. He kept saying they would knock on the door. He didn’t have a tooty clue.

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The Burj Khalifa,  the tallest building in the world, reached gracefully into the sky for over half a mile, and I just HAD to pay a visit. Click on this link to see it for yourself!

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I stepped into the elevator and the doors closed silently. I waited. And waited. The doors opened after 15 seconds and surprisingly we had arrived! It had been such a smooth ride that we hadn’t even realised the elevator was moving, and it is one of the world’s fastest elevators. At the observation deck on the 124th floor, I stood and looked down on people ants and toy cars, rivers of ribbon and splashes of azure blue where pools shone like jewels in the desert. The views were hazy but I could see from the Gulf coast to the Arabian desert,  I could look down on The World. The building had another 32 floors but these were residential – all sitting staring vacantly into space as there are no takers. I returned to the ground floor and explored one of the largest shopping malls in the world, with over 700 shops in the gold souk alone. (This was when my purse started to sweat mightily)

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Outside the Burj Khalifa, the 30 acre lake sparkled seductively in the setting sun and classical music began to play. The world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain, jumped 500 feet in time with the music as it danced and pirouetted around us. It was lovely to be able to hear this. This fountain ‘performs’ every half hour, every evening, at an eye-watering cost of £15,000 each time.

Check here for my video of Dubai Fountain.

I really enjoyed the beautiful architecture of the city and the attention to detail, the Atlantis at Palm Jumeirah, the amazing Burj Al-Arab shaped like a sailboat, skyscrapers built like razor blades, the traditional designs at the Dubai Mall, train stations shaped like fat cigars, smoother than smooth roads (no potholes! Can you believe it?). Close up, the detail was reminiscent of Moroccan art.

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Everywhere was sparking clean and new. Every restaurant and hotel had wonderful cakes and snacks on display. I was soooo tempted! The food was as good as the Arab hospitality.

The palatial hotel wasn’t a patch on the British ones (or maybe I just need to get out more). Check out this five hour massage – I might just book this the next time I visit! The hotel felt quite impersonal as it was so big. But it was certainly impressive and the staff were wonderful. Yet more sweet guys pouring coffee for me. Yippee. I like!

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Bigger? Better? Best? You bet!

When I left Dubai, it was such a hassle trying to get appropriate airline seats with my interpreter. She had to sit across the aisle from me so I could see her when the cabin crew spoke to me. Our reserved seats had disappeared and they couldn’t understand the concept of a hearing loss making me vulnerable in an emergency, that I needed my interpreter with me so I could have access to information. If this had been British Arseways, we might have got an upgrade, but Emirates scrabbled around and finally found us appropriate seats. The Marhaba service hadn’t been booked for our return flights as the assumption was that we wouldn’t need it. Lesson learned there!

As we arrived at Heathrow, a passenger behind me took his suitcase out of the overhead cabin and dropped it on my head. It missed my cochlear implant by an inch. I demonstrated a remarkable level of self control and said nothing but he did get the filthiest look from me.

My first thoughts on going through passport control? How dirty it all is. I love pristine marble floors and hate grubby carpets. I love air conditioning and hate sweating under the glare of fluorescent lights. I love Marhaba whisking me through passport control and hate standing in a long queue. I just wanted to turn around and go back, and have Dubai say ‘Welcome To Everything’ all over again.

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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 …