20+ Ways to Handle Communication Challenges and Wearing a Face Mask with Your Hearing Aids
To aid in the prevention of the coronavirus, it is now a requirement for everyone to wear a face mask in public. This can be complicated for anyone with hearing loss.
Face Masks make Communication more Challenging for People who are Hard of Hearing
People's voices are muffled - making it very difficult to understand them, and their faces are covered - making it impossible to read facial expressions or lip read. For hearing aid users, the ear loops on your face mask could pull on your hearing aids and cause some issues.
3 Tips for Hearing Aid Users when Wearing and Removing Your Face Mask:
8 ways to Communicate while Wearing a Face Mask:
How to Wear Your Face Mask with Hearing Aids
For anyone who wears behind-the-ear hearing aids, you will probably come across some issues when donning a standard face mask that has elastic ear loops. These ear loops could pull at the tubing that connects the hearing aid and the domes that rest in your ears. You may accidentally yank your hearing aids out and drop them while taking your mask off.
If you happen to be looking for new hearing aids, now would be a good time to ask your hearing instrument specialist for a trial of in-the-ear (ITE) or receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids. These hearing aids do not rest behind your ears. Instead, they rest inside your ear canal.
Alternative Face Mask Options:
Many who are hard of hearing have been advocating for the public to wear clear face shields, but this has not been adopted yet.
How to Speak to those with Hearing Loss when Wearing a Face Mask
Anyone with hearing loss can tell you the new set of challenges they face when interacting with a person who is wearing a face mask. This is especially true in medical settings, where there is high stress, and communication is almost equally as frustrating for both the healthcare provider and patient.
There are two evident dilemmas. The patient cannot gain any facial or lip reading cues, and the healthcare provider’s voice is distorted and muffled.
9 Ways to make Your Office, or Exam Room, more welcoming for those with Hearing Loss:
Speakers may try to communicate with the hard of hearing by projecting their voice, but it’s actually more effective to speak clearly, at a normal volume and enunciate their words.
When You are out in Public
When going out to go grocery shopping, or picking up a prescription, those previously mentioned tips may be impossible to follow. If you and your spouse are wearing masks, be sure that your spouse is aware that they need to speak clearly and at a steady pace when addressing you. Advocate for yourself when speaking to strangers. Tell them that you cannot hear very well, and let them know that they need to speak very clearly.
If you are speaking to someone with hearing loss, instead of repeating yourself, utilize body language by making eye contact, using hand gestures to reflect your facial reactions and speaking a little slower. If they read lips, speak at a normal, steady pace.
Please be aware that Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require new hearing aid fittings, repairs and re-fittings. If you need a hearing aid repair, we ask that you please wait in your car, while wearing your mask, and place your hearing aids in a clean zip lock bag. One of our staff members will come to your car to get them. If you are having any issues with your hearing aids, or need supplies for your hearing aids, please call us before visiting one of our offices.
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