What is Lip-Reading?

Lip-reading (sometimes called ‘speechreading’) teaches practitioners to use context, non-verbal cues and lip patterns to process speech. 

It’s an excellent skill for anyone to develop, especially for those with hearing loss. Lip-readers can distinguish about 30–45%1,2 of the words used at any time if they rely on their skill alone. That’s a significant boost, especially if you’re already using hearing aids or other assistive technologies. This can be the difference between being unsure of what’s being said to you and being confident that you’re fully engaged in a two-way exchange. 

With easy access to on-demand education through the internet, many people are also learning to lip-read. Often, these people want to support a loved one who is hearing impaired or feel it will be valuable in meetings or social situations where hearing every word is difficult.

The Benefits of Learning to Lip-Read

Any method for improving your comprehension of speech is beneficial, but lip-reading has some distinctive benefits for those with hearing loss, such as helping practitioners to:3 

Follow video calls: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, video calls have become a popular way to stay in touch with friends and family. You may experience audio disruptions or lags, and automatic captioning isn’t always accurate. Being able to lip-read the people you call will help you bridge any technology-related gaps. 

Feel confident with background noise: High background noise levels are part and parcel of many social spaces. That’s where lip-reading can help by adding extra information and context around what you’re hearing. 

Improve your relationships: All relationships rely on good communication. Practising your lip-reading with a friend or family member won’t just help you both improve this vital skill but will also help build closer relationships. 

Feel more connected: Improved comprehension means you can contribute more fully to conversations, better understand what’s happening around you, and feel more connected to the people and situations you encounter.

Enhance their technology: Even if it only adds a little to your overall comprehension, lip-reading will help you bridge the communication gap no matter your hearing level. 

With these benefits in mind, what’s the best way to learn lip-reading?

How to Learn Lip-Reading

You can learn lip-reading from almost anywhere and from any device. Classes and courses are available online through YouTube channels and hearing organisations worldwide.4 

If you prefer in-person learning, finding a more formal course that is available for your time frame and budget is as easy as contacting your local hearing support association.5 

Besides the virtually unlimited online practice and testing opportunities, one thing seems universally true. Practice and continuing education are critical. 

A straightforward way to practice is simply to find real-world opportunities, such as: 

  • Watching movies and television.
  • Speaking with friends or family members.
  • Watching a lecture or performance.
  • Attending social gatherings.

Lip-Reading Tips

Lip-reading can make a big difference to your confidence and comprehension. For best results, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings, including: 

Environment: There must be enough light to see people’s lips. 

Proximity: The person you’re ‘reading’ must be close to you, facing in your direction, with their head up and looking directly at you. 

Distractions: One-on-one contact or small group conversations are best. 

As noted above, there are plenty of free online resources. Many of these resources are highly detailed, with instructions and exercises like lip-reading particular sounds.6 

So, why not get started? It’s free, not too difficult, and you can learn and practice in comfort and privacy at home. If you have any concerns that you may have hearing loss, visit your local Connect Hearing clinic, where the team will be delighted to help.


  1. Boots Hearingcare [n.d.], How to learn lip reading? Fast tactics and myth busters, Boots, accessed 13 June 2024, Medscape [12 June 2024], 
  2. Communication Strategies for Nurses Interacting With Patients Who Are Deaf, Medscape, accessed 13 June 2024.
  3. Healthy Hearing [8 March 2023], 5 benefits of lipreading when you have hearing loss, Healthy Hearing, accessed 28 May 2024.
  4. Deafness Forum Australia [19 September 2023], Welcome to Australia’s online lipreading program, Deafness Forum Australia, accessed 28 May 2024. 
  5. Better Hearing Australia [n.d.], Face2Face Speechreading Academy, Better Hearing Australia, accessed 28 May 2024. 
  6. Lipreading.org [n.d.], A beginner’s guide to lipreading, lipreading.org llc, accessed 28 May 2024.