How Lip-Reading Benefits Everyone
As the majority of the world’s population has relied on masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, miscommunication has been on the rise. Interpersonal communication has been severely affected, in large part due to face masks that muffle sounds and cover facial expressions. The use of masks has also prevented the ability to lip-read, which has presented further difficulties for individuals who are hard of hearing.
To combat this, SmileMask has offered an alternative — an ADA-compliant clear mask that enables individuals to lip-read and pick up on nonverbal cues. Read on to learn more about the art of lip-reading, its important role in society, and how clear masks empower individuals to communicate better.
What Is Lip-Reading?
In order to understand why lip-reading is important, it is critical to first establish what exactly lip-reading is. Lip-reading, which is sometimes referred to as “speech reading,” allows people to understand more speech by watching for and identifying mouth movements that are associated with speech, according to Read Our Lips. The Hearing Loss Association of America describes lip-reading as “using what you see on the speaker’s lips as well as facial expressions and gestures to understand conversation.”
This is accomplished through watching the speaker’s face to establish speech patterns, expressions and gestures — all of which are important components to understanding the meaning behind the message. For instance, one reason that phone conversations can be particularly difficult for hard of hearing individuals is in large part due to the lack of a face to “read.” The result can be muddled words that lead to miscommunication.
Similarly, imagine being in a noisy room and trying to hold a conversation. Most likely, you will find yourself leaning in and intently listening, as well as relying on facial expressions and cues to help you understand. Lip-reading does not only benefit individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf — it can benefit everyone.
The Importance of Lip-Reading in Society
There are a myriad of perks that come from understanding how to read lips. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, lip-reading is an incredibly useful tool to have at your disposal. However, you don’t have to have severe hearing loss to benefit from learning this incredible skill. Below are two of the top advantages from learning how to read lips.
Communication is primarily nonverbal. Most experts agree that 70% to 93% of all communication is nonverbal, with only 7% of our communication being done verbally. Communication is a substantial part of our lives and, without it, life can begin to feel dull or isolating. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why lip-reading is important — it helps improve communication. Most individuals already have some lip-reading skills without realizing it. Lip-reading helps to supplement speech understanding, while leaning on prior knowledge to fill in the gaps of the message being communicated. It can be an integral part of an effective communication strategy.
According to The Hearing Solution, the feeling of learning how to lip-read can be described as if the “world is opening up again.” Mastering this skill can dramatically improve one’s overall well-being, broadening their communication skills to better understand the world around them. It also gives individuals the necessary skills to develop confidence and stay connected to the world.
The Role of Lip-Reading during the Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has required the use of face masks. Evidence has shown that the use of masks prevents the spread of the coronavirus and keeps people safe.
While this is important, masks can be problematic for individuals who depend on reading lips for communicating. Masks limit visual cues and muffle sound, as well as preventing the possibility of reading lips. Understandably, this makes communicating more challenging and has introduced the need for clear face masks.
Communicating Effectively while Wearing Masks
It might seem impossible to have effective communication while wearing a mask — but SmileMask is making sure that doesn’t have to be the case. This 100% woman-owned business is serving the needs of its customers by creating an ADA-compliant clear mask.
Unlike traditional face masks, SmileMask masks enable you to see the face of the person you’re speaking with. The makers of these masks understand that human connection is essential to our well-being and that facial expression, facial cues and lip-reading significantly help improve communication.
Conclusion: Learning how to lip-read benefits everyone and helps to improve communication and increase confidence. That’s why SmileMak is the to-go option for masks.
Anna Bell is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.
Read Our Lips - Benefits of Lip Reading
Hearing Loss Association of America - Speech Reading Lip Reading
Forbes - Strong Non-Verbal Skills Matter Now More Than Ever
The Hearing Solution - Benefits of Lip Reading With Hearing Loss