Read My Lips (Or At Least Try To, It’s Pretty Difficult)

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For Stanford Magazine, Stanford master’s student Rachel Kolb describes what it’s like navigating the world of the hearing when you were born deaf, with a particular focus on reading lips.

As it turns out, lip-reading isn’t nearly as accurate as movies and TV shows make it out to be—especially if the speaker has a foreign accent. And then there’s the question of privilege:

I attempt to communicate with hearing people on their terms, with no expectation that they will return the favor. The standards I am striving for seem ridiculous: I am trying singlehandedly to cross the chasm of disability.

(Full disclosure: A certain Rumpus intern was once in an undergraduate English class with Ms. Kolb, and she had an interpreter who stood up front and signed all the lectures as they happened, and it was awesome.)


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →