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Blue background, young woman in white shirt holding both hands up to her left ear. Top Tips for communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing

Lipreading and Communication

Lipreading is a vital tool that deaf people use to them to understand what others are saying but only 30% of information is lipreadable.

When someone is lipreading, they are putting together the bits that they can hear (some people might hear some sounds and not others), what they can see in terms of lip patterns and shapes while also picking up clues from the environment, including your facial expression, gestures, and what is going on around about. This is a lot of hard work and is prone to error, but there are some simple things that we can all do to help someone to lipread when we are chatting with them.

Top Tips to Support Communication

  • Face the person and make sure your face is well-lit – so don’t sit with your back to the window!
  • Get the person’s attention before you start speaking so that they know you are talking to them.
  • Speak normally and clearly – don’t shout – you will only look angry.
  • Don’t talk while you’re doing something – give the person your full attention so that they can lipread you.
  • Minimise background noise if you can or move to somewhere quieter.
  • Ask the person what will help them.
  • Use gestures, facial expressions and any other forms of visual communication that might help – write something down, point to something you are talking about, draw a diagram, text or type on screen.

All of these will make a big difference, and will help the person feel like you are on their side and want to communicate with them.

Most of all, be patient and kind!

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