Scientists from Britain, Holland and Sweden, have come up with computer software that could enable people with impaired hearing to use the telephone more efficiently.

The software converts speech into animated pictures to enable the user to lip-read. The main advantage of the software over current videophones, is that only the person with impaired hearing would need it.

Early trials are showing promising results. Dr Jonas Beskow said: "We plan to start testing this technology with hearing impaired users. After that, in about one year, we hope to have a prototype ready."