Reg Cobb: How a trip to my local shop showed me the mental gymnastics involved in lipreading

Posted on July 13, 2016

I’m the sort of guy who can eat a lot and “run” it off a lot, so I’m a frequent visitor to food stores and recently visited a new My Local store, which is not really my local, but I venture anywhere where there’s food.

And it was here that I realised the concentration and mental gymnastics involved in lipreading people.

My Local has taken over Morrison’s local stores, so here I am in My Local in the quest to find lunch at a reasonable price, so I looked around for a meal deal. I don’t like asking staff questions, as it’s tiresome trying to lipread answers.

After some time looking around, and deciding that I had not been successful, I asked a member of staff how I would find a meal deal and she said: “Stab Mandy.”

My first thought was that the world had gone mad, I have to kill people for food! No, we haven’t gone that far, so I asked her to repeat and she repeatedly said: “Stab Mandy” … Gulp!

Her face was getting redder and frustrated and it was then that I started to notice that she has a lisp. I started to work out surrounding factors, as Sherlock Holmes would do, and here were the surrounding factors I could think of:

  • My Local is very new
  • Just taken over by Morrison’s
  • Morrison’s does meal deals
  • It’s possible that My Local doesn’t do meal deals
  • The take-over happened very recently- possibly the previous Monday.

Ah! I realised she had said: “Stopped Monday.”

So I found other food and satisfied my appetite.

I think this sums up the fact that deaf people’s ability to lip-read is not just about what the person is saying, but to calculate surrounding factors on top of it!

Reg Cobb is a deaf father of three. Reg was born to deaf parents and went to a deaf school. He’s worked supporting people with disabilities for 20 years and now works for Gloucester Deaf Association. He loves making people laugh and looks on the bright side of life.

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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