Speechreading For People with Hearing Loss

What is speech reading?

Most people with hearing loss use visual cues to help them understand the spoken word. Speech reading involves:

  • Watching the lip, jaw, tongue and teeth movements of the speaker.
  • Facial expressions, gestures, postures and movements which help convey speaker’s meaning.
  • Knowing the topic and context.
  • Good vision. With normal vision, it is possible to speechread up to twenty-four feet but five feet is the ideal distance from the speaker(s).
  • Emotional resilience to stay confident and committed to good communication.


How Speech Reading Can Help Maximize the Benefits of Your Hearing Aid

Hearing aids will greatly increase your ability to understand conversations, but learning to read visual cues and understanding basic speech reading, can help supplement your ears with other information and fill in the blank spots in your communication. Everyone—with or without hearing loss—uses these cues to some extent. It is important to understand that, with practice, everyone can learn to read these cues more effectively.

Why should I take a speech reading course?

  • Increased understanding of hearing loss issues.
  • Help hearing aids and other technology do their job.
  • Develop a range of troubleshooting strategies to deal with challenging situations.
  • Share ideas with other people who have hearing loss.
  • Become a better communicator!

Speechreading helps put people with hearing loss back in the conversation. Good communication is vital to a good quality of life – Online courses and resources are  available the opportunity to socialize with others who are living a similar experience with hearing loss.

Communication strategies If YOU have hearing loss:

  • Let others know how to communicate with you; be assertive about your needs.
  • Take visual clues from the speaker’s eyes, facial expressions and body language.
  • Create the best possible listening environment: well-lit, no background noise, good sightlines.
  • Anticipate your communication needs at gatherings, restaurants, etc.
  • Ask for key words or topic changes to be written down.
  • Do not bluff (pretend to understand); verify and clarify what you don’t understand.
  • Take breaks – communicating with hearing loss takes a lot of energy!

When speaking with a person who has hearing loss:

  • Get the person’s attention before starting to talk.
  • Talk directly to the person with the light on your face.
  • Keep face and mouth clear of obstructions.
  • Speak clearly, at a moderate pace, with natural enunciation.
  • Don’t shout.
  • Facial expressions and gestures should support what you’re saying.
  • Signal subject changes.
  • Rephrase comments or words if necessary.
  • Eliminate background noise.
  • Ask the person with hearing loss what would work better.

There are limited resources for those who wish to learn to speech read.  Here are a couple of websites that may help:


Are you Interested in a speech reading course?  The Adult Loss of Hearing Association is considering having speech reading courses, depending on the level of interest.  If you are interested, please let us know by contacting us via email or using our online form.  

Email:  info@alohaaz.org

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