Lipreading Software

If you need to learn how to read lips – for example, if you experienced a sudden loss of hearing – you can seek out in-person training in lipreading or you may turn to commercial lipreading software. Here's an overview of some of the more popular lipreading programs:

Hearing Visions is a lipreading software company. Their product "I See What You Say" is available for purchase on Amazon and includes a manual with photos and a one-hour video. The product will help people learn to read lips when either phrases or single words are spoken. The instructional format is clearly presented to learn sound recognition.

A doctor and researcher in Australia, Dr. Mary Allen, developed her own program. Dr. Allen had done a thesis on lipreading with the aid of computers. As a result of her research, she developed a software program for self-instruction. She states that this software was tested on 38 late-deafened adults to gauge its effectiveness. In addition, she also offers a video of an actual lipreading competition. Her other products include a package of 33 photo cards depicting the sounds of speech like vowels and consonants and a poster of all the photo cards.

Woman reading text message on a mobile phone and giving flying kiss
Fabrice LEROUGE / Getty Images

Lipreader is a program available from the United Kingdom through the company David Smith Software. The software uses a graduated approach, starting with letters and sounds and advancing to full sentences. Users can control the speed of the speech. The program demonstrates mouthshapes for vowels and consonants and also has a fingerspelling-only mode for users to learn the British sign language alphabet for these same vowels and consonants. Additional learning modules include asking questions and answers, full passages, and a comparison mode for learning the differences between very similar mouthshapes. (Can you tell the difference between "d" and "z" through lipreading alone?) To make learning more fun, the program also has puzzles and allows users to add their own words, sentences, and passages. The program's creator, David Smith, has Meniere's disease, which can cause hearing loss.

Speechreading Laboratory, Inc. produces the program Read My Lips. The creator is Robert L. Russell, Ph.D. Instead of letters, the program begins with words before advancing to sentences and phrases. There is no sound because the creators believe that withholding sound will force students to learn better; instead, people try to guess what is said before the program gives the answer via a caption. Learners get practice trying to understand almost 40 people of all ages, including men with mustaches (it is very challenging to lipread someone with a mustache). The program covers lipreading in various settings, such as eating at the breakfast table.

Learning to Read Lips

How effective is learning to read lips using software? It may depend on the age of the lipreading student. Researchers have found that adults with higher visualspatial working memory, which is the ability to keep track of moving objects, have better success learning to read lips. As visiualspatial memory declines with age, so does the ability to lip read. For children, lipreading abilities are best learned between the ages of seven and 14.

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