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Oral communication involves the transmission of information through the auditory sensory system—the system of speaking and hearing.

Oral communication usually encompasses both verbal communication and paralinguistic communication to convey meaning.

While some deafness is genetic, surprisingly more than 90% of deaf children are born into families where everyone else can hear. Commonly, these families have never met a deaf person before, and the task of learning Auslan to communicate, is a difficult one.

Often the medical advice is for the child to be taught to speak and lipread to have a better chance of assimilating into mainstream society. Traditionally parents have been discouraged from teaching their child to sign as it was thought this would interfere with their ability to learn English. Research has now proved this view to be incorrect and highlights the importance of providing children with as much language as possible in their early developmental years.

Depending on the level of hearing loss, and with the assistance of hearing aids or cochlear implants, some individuals can get by quite well lip reading and speaking. However, it is important to note that only 30% of what we say reflects on the lips and mouth and it takes a considerable amount of concentration to follow a conversation. This is made even more difficult if the speaker has facial hair, is eating or has an accent. It also goes without saying that you can’t read the back of someone’s head.

Learn more about lipreading