Coping with Masks and Hearing Loss

The need to deal with masks is a reality for the foreseeable future. It is an inconvenience that most of us willingly adopt to protect our neighbour and ourselves from inadvertently spreading the coronavirus. For people with hearing impairment, however, masks make everyday interactions with others difficult. Facial expressions and lip movements that help to clarify the meaning of spoken messages are now hidden behind facial coverings. What can we do to make it easier to understand each other?

Best Mask Options For People With Hearing Impairment

Research is showing that surgical-style masks muffle voices the least, but cotton masks, which are washable (and therefore more environmentally friendly) are the next best at preserving the clarity of speech. Clear Masks are an excellent option for family members or service providers of people with hearing impairment. This brand of mask has been approved for medical use. These masks allow listeners to see the entire face of the speaker. We have a small quantity available at Heritage Hearing Care if you would like to adopt this solution. Another solution is to make your own version of a clear mask. Here is a pattern designed by Kit Kenyon of Craft Passion for making masks with a transparent area over the mouth for folks who are talented with a sewing machine.

Being Courteous Can Make A Difference In Communication

Old-fashioned courtesy is also very helpful when communication is difficult. It is much easier to understand someone who is standing still, facing us, and speaking slowly and clearly (not shouting). We can take turns and rephrase our communications when someone doesn’t understand rather than repeating with a raised voice. Also, it is helpful to turn off or isolate background noise whenever possible. Finally, if you have hearing aids, you can be sure to wear them for your best opportunity to hear.

Masks And Your Hearing Aids

Dealing with masks and hearing aids can be a challenge. There is a technique for removing your mask so you don’t lose your hearing aids. To see the technique, click here or book an appointment for a walk through on the phone, a video call or an in-office visit. Wearing masks that tie behind your head or are kept in place with a mask holder worn near the back of the head might interfere less with hearing aids worn behind the ear. Click here for a  helpful summary video.

If you do happen to lose a hearing aid and you have your manufacturer’s app on your phone, check to see if there is a “find your aid” feature. It might help to narrow down the search area! If you purchased your aids within the last year or two, report the loss to your dispenser right away.  You may still have loss and damage coverage.

Wearing masks without hearing aids may tip the scales for some people. If you have discovered that the effort needed to listen has increased, it may be time to have your hearing assessed. We can certainly help you with that. Even with masks, we can all get better at helping ears to hear!