Mask wearing makes lip-reading impossible, says Michael Schamber
Mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing are key practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but mask wearing and social distancing are making it difficult for those with hearing loss. People with hearing loss rely heavily on the clarity and loudness of speech as well as lip reading and non-verbal cues. Mask wearing makes lip-reading impossible and reduces high pitch voices, the loudness and clarity of speech, and non-verbal cues. Social distancing additionally reduces the clarity and loudness of speech.
During COVID-19 some service providers use telephone conferencing for communicating with their clients. People with hearing loss often struggle talking on the phone because of reduced visual cues, lip-reading, and clarity via the telephone. There are some hearing aids that connect directly with iPhones and Android phones. It is, therefore, better to use Skype, FaceTime or Zoom type platforms to communicate with clients as these platforms allow for visual teleconferencing, lip reading, wireless connectivity to hearing aids, and loudspeaker use.
Some suggestions for improving communication: slow down your speaking rate, speak appropriately loud but do not shout, face your speaking partner directly, make eye-contact, use hand gestures if possible, and reduce background noise. Ask your speaking partner if they heard you, if not, then restate and rephrase. You may need to write out your message.
There are clear face masks on the market that permit lip-reading. They have a clear window around the mouth that permits lip reading. If you are going to use a clear mask for your workplace, then ensure that it meets your respective workplace requirements.
Hearing aid wearers are also having difficulty keeping their hearing aids on due to mask wearing. Hearing aids either fall off while putting the mask on, or while taking the mask off. A lot of hearing aid wearers have lost their hearing aids during this pandemic. There are some masks that use string ties behind the head instead of ear-loops. There is also an extender for your mask ear-loops that allow for connection behind the head. Hopefully these suggestions will help with your communications.
Contact us today to get on the path to better hearing health.
Original Article: Mississauga.com August 20, 2020