Eighteen deaf people are preparing to begin testing computerized eyeglasses to help them read lips.

The device, called the autocuer, projects symbols onto the lens so the wearer can differentiate between words that sound different but look the same on the human lips.

In English, for example, "red light" looks like "green light" to a lipreader. And 60 words look like "met," including bet and pet. With the autocuer, each of the 60 words can be identified.

The autocuer uses a cigarette pack-sized computer processor, attached by wire to the glasses, to convert spoken words into visual cues seen only by the person wearing the device. On the lens, light emitting diodes (LEDs) are magnified to provide the display.

Robert Beadles, whose daughter is deaf, developed the autocuer at the Research Triangle in North Carolina. He said the device will have "sufficient accuracy" -- as high as 80 percent -- to be "adequate to understand speech."

The field tests are to be run through Gallaudet College in the District.

The device is similar to a system called cued speech, in which a speaker can use hand signals to help a lipreader. But for cued speech to be used, the speaker has to know the system.

Beadles says that with his device, "everyone is a cuer."