S peechreading refers to the skill of understanding a spoken message by paying attention to a person’s lips, jaws, tongue and teeth, as well as facial expressions, gestures and body language. And that’s not all. Speechreading also means paying attention to the sounds that you can hear, along with context, lighting, amount of background noise, situation… and then filling in the blanks of what you may have missed! That’s why we don’t call it “lip-reading,” because Speechreading involves so much more than just reading lips.

Everybody speechreads to some extent, but people who are hard of hearing have to learn to do it more. Hearing aids and assistive devices amplify and improve the quality of sound, but for many people who are hard of hearing, increased volume doesn’t necessarily mean increased comprehension. To help us understand speech, we must also learn to “read” what our friends, family and associates are saying. “Reading” does not mean seeing every word – even the best of speechreaders claim to see no more than half of the words. And that’s because half of the English language is simply not visible on the lips. The other “contextual” skills that make up Speechreading are just as important as “lip-reading.”

Lip Reader ButtonsIt takes time and practice to speechread well but the results are worth it – renewed confidence in our ability to participate in a world of sound, activity and people.

Lip reader buttons can also be very useful, to show others that you are a lip reader. These buttons are available from CHHA-Calgary.



Speechreading classes are highly beneficial for the person with hearing loss. You will become aware of all of the dynamics involved in Speechreading; you will learn about and discuss coping strategies for managing your hearing loss; you will learn about hearing aids and assistive listening devices; and you will practice your skills with other people who are hard of hearing.

How Do I Find Out More?

CHHA has trained Speechreading Instructors across Canada – here in Calgary you can find out about Speechreading classes by calling Deaf and Hear Alberta at (403) 284-6205.  CHHA also recently launched the National Speech Reading Program where you can learn about workshops across the country and they will be offering online learning tools.

CHHA has also produced a video, called “Sound Ideas” to help you get started with Speechreading. This is available locally from Deaf & Hard of Hearing Society in Calgary or CHHA-Calgary at (403) 284-6224. As well, there are many other books and videos available on this important communication tool. CHHA offers many Speechreading Materials. And many members of CHHA-Calgary are accomplished speechreaders who would be happy to discuss the subject.


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