Captioning, not lip-reading Doctor Sacks
January 1, 2011 §
As much as we admire and enjoy reading Oliver Sacks articles, this one in today’s newspaper is, unfortunately, quite misleading. Not exactly wrong, not really mistaken, yet it perpetuates a myth that needs to be shattered: lip reading does not replace hearing.
Most reports state that lip reading, at best, gives a person 35 to 40% of understanding of the spoken word when they learn to lip read (some folks cannot). It is essential for communication, no doubt about it, yet please Dr. Sacks, explain the full picture, and talk to us in the CCAC for information about real time speech to text – captions – that’s what millions of us need.
Here is part of the article in today’s New York Times:
This Year, Change Your Mind
By OLIVER SACKS
“New Year’s resolutions often have to do with eating more healthfully, going to the gym more, giving up sweets, losing weight — all admirable goals aimed at improving one’s physical health. Most people, though, do not realize that they can strengthen their brains in a similar way.
While some areas of the brain are hard-wired from birth or early childhood, other areas — especially in the cerebral cortex, which is central to higher cognitive powers like language and thought, as well as sensory and motor functions — can be, to a remarkable extent, rewired as we grow older. In fact, the brain has an astonishing ability to rebound from damage — even from something as devastating as the loss of sight or hearing. As a physician who treats patients with neurological conditions, I see this happen all the time.
For example, one patient of mine who had been deafened by scarlet fever at the age of 9, was so adept at lip-reading that it was easy to forget she was deaf. Once, without thinking, I turned away from her as I was speaking. “I can no longer hear you,” she said sharply.
“You mean you can no longer see me,” I said.
“You may call it seeing,” she answered, “but I experience it as hearing.”
Lip-reading, seeing mouth movements, was immediately transformed for this patient into “hearing” the sounds of speech in her mind. Her brain was converting one mode of sensation into another…..”