Read My Lips, If You Can

I saw this video on lip-reading

and it really got me thinking. I’m always trying to educate people on how to do things better for us blind folks, what could I learn about having more readable lips? I think I know the basics, face the person, don’t mumble, don’t cover my mouth, don’t talk like some kind of chipmunk on speed. But what else could I do?

I also got thinking about this more because I had an Uber driver who is deaf. When he said he was deaf, I did the dumb thing. I didn’t know what questions I could ask that wouldn’t offend him. I also didn’t know how to speak. I thought I should really enunciate, but then I thought “Hmmm, is that the equivalent of yelling? Does that make it harder? Is he going to think I think he’s dumb?” So I tried to make my speech patterns as normal as possible, but I did try to speak in decisive sentences, i.e. not mumble and babble about extraneous things.

I don’t think my questions were the dumb, invasive kind, but I did have questions. I wanted to know how we could best communicate, where I should sit. Should I sit in the front so he could see my face better? When is the best time to know when to try and speak? I mean if he’s looking at my face, how could he look at the road? I elected to let him tell me what to do, and he directed me to the back, so I went along. I decided to lean forward and try and make it so my face was positioned in the space between front passenger and driver’s seats, and if he asked me a yes/no question, I would also nod or shake my head along with verbally answering. I also turned on my GPS so if he asked me street names, I would know generally where we were, hoping that would be helpful.

It turns out we got by just fine, and he navigated the construction problems flawlessly, so we really didn’t need to communicate much, but I realized how much I might not know about having the most readable lips. I’ve known some people with pretty significant hearing loss, but I don’t know how much lip-reading they did, because when they would guide me somewhere, we weren’t in the greatest position for lip-reading since I was slightly behind them.

So, if there’s anyone out there reading this who reads lips, is there anything else I can do better besides the obvious? I do feel bad that I can’t “come alive” when you just have my boring old lips to read. I kind of feel lazy that I don’t know sign language…but it’s a language. Use it, or lose it! So whatever I do learn goes splat.

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