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How to Talk to a Lipreader

By Michele Linder

I’m teaching my granddaughter how to talk to me… I’ve been doing it from the beginning, but now that she’s older, and getting ready to start school, I’m seeing the benefits of it more.

Yesterday she spoke to me from the backseat of the car, so naturally I looked at her in the rearview mirror. As she held up a flashlight that Pops had given her, she said “This flashlight turns ________.” 

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I saw her lips move, but just couldn’t get that last word, so my brain ran through the list of possibilities and nothing was right. I finally got it! GREEN. “This flashlight turns green.”

I then reminded her that she could give me more information, if I’m not getting it the first time, and that a better way might have been to say, “This flashlight turns the color green.”

She thought about it.

Later, I asked her what she had had to eat that day, as it was getting late and neither of us had eaten lunch. She told me she had eaten “One egg, three slices of bacon, and a ________.” 

Again, I wasn’t getting it. The word on her lips looked similar to bagel, but that wasn’t it.  And just like that, she said “I had a mango, it’s a piece of fruit.”, and I got it. 

Sometimes getting difficult words on the lips is that simple… use more describing words. 

Of course, it occurs to me if we knew more sign language or could cue speech my granddaughter could give me additional clues. You might see pictures of my granddaughter’s hands in a future post. :)

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