Le’Anne McEachern, Au.D.
Doctor of Audiology – Tips to Communicate When Wearing a Mask
Wearing masks is making it harder on people who have difficulty hearing. A recent survey by the Hearing Loss Association of America found that 95% of respondents with hearing loss say masks and facial coverings have created communication barriers since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Masks make it harder to communicate in multiple ways. It muffles sound, making it difficult to understand speech and some higher-pitched voices. Masks also take away a person’s ability to read lips and see facial expressions, both of which help people better understand what is being communicated. This is true for everyone, but especially for those with hearing loss.
When messages aren’t received correctly, this can result not only in frustration, but also put people at risk for serious harm, especially in medical or emergency situations. It’s important for everyone to do their part to make communication more effective.
The following actions can help improve communication for those with hearing loss:
* Move to a quiet place if you can.
* Make sure you have your communication partner’s attention before speaking.
* Face your partner directly, and make sure nothing is blocking your view.
* Talk a little louder (but don’t shout).
* Talk a little slower.
* Use your hands and your body language.
* Ask your partner if they understood you; if not, say it a different way or write it down.
* If you’re talking with someone new, ask if there’s anything you can do to make communication easier for both of you.
* Use other forms of communication if necessary, such as speech-to-text apps.
For more information please call Audiology and Hearing Aid Center: 541-272-5015