Lipreader Insider

Lipreading – how much can we understand?


Lipreading – how much can we understand? Someone said, “Lipreaders only catch around one-third of what’s said.” – I respectfully disagree!

I understand some people most of the time, some half the time, and those who tend to mumble, have a heavy accent or beard, or talk fast – I barely understand them.

Lipreading involves working out what is said based on context. When I’m lipreading reading content, I’m not filling in the blanks. That’s not the case with reading lips.


Homophones! They look the same!

About 40% of the sounds in the English language can be seen on a speaker’s lips in good conditions — such as a well-lit room where a person can see the speaker’s face.”

Here are some examples I use to show how multiple words look the same on the lips without sound: 

Ate – Eight

Bare – Bear

Brake – Break

Cell – Sell

Flour – Flower

Hair -care

Hear – Here

Know – No

Mail – Male

Meet – Meat

Morning – Mourning 

This is where my cochlear implant comes in handy. It helps me differentiate the Bs, Ps, Hs, and Ms. (homophones) and has been an invaluable part of my life since I had the implant fitted in 1998.


How can We communicate better?

Unfortunately, when we speak/talk, we rarely keep still; in fact, we move around and use our hands to create gestures, touch our faces, or flick our hair; it is almost always a public place with much noise. 

An ideal scenario is a meeting in person. One person speaks at a time, the room is well-lit, and there is no background noise.

I have a friend who has a heavy accent, and I met with her in the library, where it was quiet. I understood more of what she said than I did any other time than when we were within a crowd.

Think of every communication: drive-through, customer service, shop assistants, receptionists, till workers and web conferences.

You can communicate by writing things down on pen and paper or using your “Notes” or other text app on your mobile device.





Lipreader Insider

The Art of Lipreading: Decoding the Unheard


How long can one truly concentrate? Is it a fleeting 10 minutes, a moderate 30 minutes, or an impressive 45 minutes? The answer may surprise you regarding the intense focus required for lipreading.

Here, we will explore the role of a lipreader in deciphering videos without audio, the time it takes for analysis, and the immense importance of knowing what is being said.

What does a lipreader do?

A lipreading expert possesses the ability to decipher spoken language by observing the movements of the speaker’s lips, facial expressions, and gestures. Their expertise lies in visually analysing the articulation of sounds and syllables, combined with context and linguistic knowledge, to interpret spoken words.

In visual storytelling, capturing interviews, discussions, and interactions on video is a powerful tool for documentation and communication. But when audio is added to these recordings, understanding the conversations becomes manageable. This is where the unique art form of lipreading comes into play.

What challenges do lipreaders face?

Lipreaders are skilled individuals who extract meaning from videos without audio and must unleash their concentration to unravel the intricacies. And let me tell you, it takes longer than you might imagine.

Lipreading is a challenging and demanding task that requires intense concentration and focus. The lipreader must carefully observe and interpret the movements of the speaker’s lips, facial expressions, and gestures to extract meaning from the visual cues. This process can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with challenging or unfamiliar speech patterns, accents, or low-quality recordings.

It’s like embarking on a treasure hunt, where every lip movement and expression holds a clue. Deciphering it requires an unwavering commitment to detail. And it is often up against the clock as most work is urgent or time-sensitive!

Understanding the spoken content in videos holds tremendous significance, regardless of the context. Here are a few reasons why knowing what is being spoken can make a substantial difference.

For example, historical documentation videos from the past can serve as invaluable historical records. Decoding conversations captured in vintage footage preserves essential moments and allows researchers, historians, and enthusiasts to gain insights into the past.

How long does lipreading take?

The time it takes for a lipreader to analyse one minute of footage can vary depending on various factors, including the clarity of the audiovisual recording, the proficiency of the lipreader, and the complexity of the lipread content.

On average, a skilled lipreader may require up to an hour to thoroughly analyse one minute of footage. This estimation accounts for the need to review specific sections repeatedly, rewind and pause the recording. Time is also needed to consider contextual information to improve accuracy.

It’s important to note that the time required can vary significantly from case to case, and lipreaders may require additional time if the footage is particularly complex or if the lipreader is facing challenges related to the speaker’s enunciation or visual obstructions.

And last but not least, the complexity of the conversation itself can impact the analysis time.

Ultimately, the focus and intensity required for lipreading and the inherent challenges of the task contribute to the time it takes to analyse footage accurately.

So, my dear reader, remember to be patient if you ever need Lipreader’s services. Give us the time we require to examine every second of footage meticulously. After all, accuracy is critical in extracting the true meaning behind those silent words.