How many of you have started scrolling through Instagram stories and then ended up skipping some stories because the person was talking?

You may not have the sound on, so you skip through it. Or you’re in a very public place and don’t want to have the sound on, so naturally, you’re skipping through those videos.

I’m constantly skipping videos that have people talking, but not for the reason you think I do it.

You see, I was born deaf.

Most people don’t even realize it because I can speak fairly well, (thanks to 10 years of speech therapy).

But more often than not, I don’t even bother to put the effort forth to watch videos that have no captioning or cliff notes. I skip to the next video.

Have you tried watching a video without sound and reading their lips? I’d love it if you hop on over and take the next few minutes to watch this video here.

Go ahead. I’ll wait for you!

So how many of you feel like you could read their lips? Not a lot of people can do that, and it is a huge misconception that all deaf people can read lips.

When you ask a deaf person if they can read lips, you are asking if you can put the burden of communication solely on them. Prioritizing your own comfort and convenience in communicating instead of identifying a mutually beneficial mode of conversing is the epitome of privilege.


A lot of people think I can lip read, but that’s far from the truth.

Even when I just asked my 11-year-old niece if she thought I could lip read. And she said yeah, don’t you make us look at you when I talk to you?

Here’s what it’s like for me, if I am wearing my hearing aid/cochlear implant, and someone covers up their mouth while they’re speaking to me, I may only get like 25% of what they said.

But when I’m able to see your lips as you speak to me, it truly helps me form a better comprehension of what you’re saying. I rely more on hearing you but seeing your lips help.

When I do video chats, I’ve been relying on using the app to help me catch words that I might have missed.

Lately, I have been going without my hearing aid/cochlear implant. And I definitely cannot read lips. I may be able to get a word here or there, but it’s probably like 1 or 2 words.

For a deaf person to have a conversation with a hearing person is mentally & physically exhausting. It is mentally and physically exhausting without an interpreter (I’d also say it is still tiring even if you have an interpreter with you.) We have to do multiple things at once in order to process what you’re saying! It’s TOTALLY A THING!

Only about 30 – 45% of the English language is actually discernable by lip-reading

The rest of it is put together by guessing and contextualization. This method is likely one of the most difficult ways for a deaf person to communicate as it requires us to work our brains in multiple different ways, and it leads to mental exhaustion after a certain period of time (that’s another post for another time!)
“Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context. And then thinking of something intelligent to say in response to an invariably random question.

It’s like doing Jigsaw Puzzles, Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time.

Let’s get back to Instagram stories, the reason why I wrote this post! I’ve been finding myself scrolling through more Instagram Stories than my feed more often these days. Instagram stories bring more connections between people, but that means people are talking more on their Instagram stories.

So this means one thing, I either skip the video because I don’t understand what they’re saying, and miss out on connecting with some AWESOME people. Or I do what I’ve been doing, if I’m genuinely interested (which is more than NOT!) I ask them if they can take the time to make sure their videos are captioned. This allows me to engage with them and build a relationship with them. Build connections which is what social media is really about.

There are two things I always suggest

The first one is to use a captioning app such as Clipomatic or MixCaptions.

If that doesn’t work for you, I suggest that you type up a quick synopsis of what you just said.

This really has made everyone more aware of how they’re doing their stories, and I’m loving it because I feel more included.

Think about it this way: social media was created to bring people together. And, by not making it accessible, you are excluding an audience that you may have.

You really never know who is following you on social media, so why wouldn’t you make sure that you’re including as many people in your audience?

Simply put, communication is a human right and refusing it is a subtle form of oppression.

Written by Erin Perkins, District Bliss’ Business Manager (love her!) and CEO of Mabely Q.

Erin will be leading an online workshop with Taylor Griffith of Lemon Tree Editorial on accessibility and inclusivity on Wednesday, March 24, 2020, at 3:30pm. Join us!