Continuing Coverage: Hearing Loss - How to Manage Communication with Face Masks
Although many are getting vaccinated for Covid-19, wearing face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) is still required when in crowded outdoor spaces and when indoors with people who are not part of your household. Communication continues to be a struggle for many people, particularly those who have hearing loss.
Problems for the Hearing Loss Community:
What can You do about This?
A number of hearing aid manufacturers developed a new setting called “mask mode.” It will automatically adjust the volume to make up for the speech sounds that the face mask distorts.
Request a “mask mode” from your hearing instrument specialist.
Modify Your Mask to Fit with Your Hearing Aids
A mask holder is wrapped on the back of the head and can support the face mask’s ear loops. This will keep the loops away from your hearing aids (and eyeglasses).
Ties made of fabric can be loosened and might not get in the way of hearing aids, the way that elastic ear loops would.
Be very careful when removing your mask. Careful removal can lower the chances of your hearing aids falling out of your ears.
How Communication, Hearing and Speech have been Impacted during the Pandemic
Face masks have lowered the volume of people’s voices and the clarity of their speech. Cloth and surgical masks have demonstrated that they decrease how clear someone’s speech is, while reducing the volume by 5 decibels (dB). Speech is not only subdued, it’s also muffled. This lower volume happens even more when someone has an N95 mask. These masks can reduce speech sounds by 12 dB.
Social Distancing and Protective Shields Create Difficult Listening Environments
It’s become more difficult to communicate due to social distancing at least six feet apart. We’re more likely to encounter barricades and protective shields in public spaces that protect employees from coming in contact with respiratory droplets. Unfortunately, these barriers make it harder to hear one another. The inability to hear is now a problem among the general public. Those without hearing loss, are getting an idea of what daily life is like for people with hearing loss.
Face Mask Mode
Hearing aid users may ask their hearing instrument specialist to adjust their devices in order to hear others speak.
The “face mask mode” setting can be controlled by using an app through your smartphone. Oticon, Signia, and Starkey have updated this mode and published a guide for hearing aid providers.
If you do not know how to adjust your hearing aids, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing. One of our hearing instrument specialists will be able to help you.
How to Wear Hearing Aids with a Face Mask
For behind-the-ear hearing aids, problems may arise from wearing a standard face mask that has elastic ear loops. The loops may pull on the wire or tube of your hearing aid. The hearing aids can become loose or completely fall off of your ears while removing the mask.
There are so many hearing aid styles that can be worn comfortably with a face mask. If you would like guidance in selecting your hearing aids, talk to one of our providers at Pure Sound Hearing.
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