A Lovely Visual Narrative That Shows What It’s Really Like to Read Lips

The production company Little Moving Pictures created a lovely visual narrative that shows viewers what it’s really like to read lips. The narrative was inspired by 2013 Rhodes Scholar Rachel Kolb, who stars in and narrates the piece. Kolb explains the challenges of lip reading in her essay “Seeing at the Speed of Sound

What would I do, I wonder, if I could not lipread? How could I ever stand it? Some people are all but impossible for me to lipread. People with thin lips; people who mumble; people who speak from the back of their throats; people with dead-fish, unexpressive faces; people who talk too fast; people who laugh a lot; tired people who slur their words; children with high, babyish voices; men with moustaches or beards; people with any sort of accent. …Some people, though not inherently difficult to understand, make themselves that way. By viewing lipreading as a mysterious and complicated thing, they make the process harder. …There are other signs, too: nervous gestures and exaggerated expressions, improvised sign language, a tic-like degree of smiling and nodding. I sense that such people are terrified of not being understood. What they do not realize is that, when they are not at ease, I cannot be either.