Communicating with a face mask, while necessary to keep each other safe, is challenging for everyone. It is especially challenging for those with hearing loss. Speaking further apart often compounds the problem.
Even those with normal hearing rely on lip reading to comprehend certain speech sounds and to detect emotions. For those with hearing loss communicating clearly while wearing face masks is difficult. Wearing a face mask removes lip reading cues, reduces the intensity of speech and distorts high-pitched sounds.
Here are some tips to help you get through this.
- Employ good communication strategies:
- Ask people to repeat (don’t be afraid).
- Ask people to use short simple messages.
- Ask people to speak slowly and clearly (not shouting, as this distorts speech).
- Face each other.
- When you speak, make sure you are speaking loud and clear yourself (lead by example).
- Reduce background noise:
- Turn off radio or television
- Move away from noise
- Step outside to quieter space
- Use writing to communicate:
- Write it down on a white board or tablet
- Add a speech to text app on your smart phone
- Use hearing aids:
- Hearing aids will improve your ability to hear others with or without a mask
- Ask you audiologist to adjust your hearing aids or create a special program designed to optimize your hearing of someone’s voice while wearing a mask.
- Try an alternate type of mask
- Clear facemasks are available.
- Faceshields with a bottom layer.
- Ask us we are happy to order one of the above for you at our cost.
Communicating with a mask can be exhausting. You are not alone, a lot of people have difficulty communicating while wearing a facemask. Help is available. Wearing hearing aids can improve the audibility and understanding of speech significantly. If you are tired or exhausted from trying to communicate with a face mask on, try communication other ways, spreading 10 ft apart outside, via facetime or zoom or by texting or emailing people.