As we continue to adjust to new rules and regulations and attempt to maintain some sense of normalcy in our daily lives, it’s essential to examine these changes. While face masks have become an integral part of the ‘new normal,’ they have also inadvertently impeded communication for a broad group of people, especially the hearing loss community. For a small portion of people, they have also helped by bringing awareness to a hearing loss that they may not have realized that they had.
Wearing a face mask has several complications when it comes to communication. Muffled speech and reduced volume are the most apparent complication. Words that sound similar but have different meanings can become challenging to distinguish. And sound can be reduced by up to 15 decibels! – Making an impossible situation even worse. This exercise can be exhausting for those with a hearing loss because of the increased effort needed to listen and communicate.
Those who compensate for a hearing loss (sometimes unaware), by relying on lip-reading, will be struggling a great deal more with the added complication of face masks, thereby causing further issues with their relationships and difficulties with daily tasks that require communication. Several of our new patients only realized that they had a hearing loss because of this.
“I didn’t know that I had a hearing loss until I started to strain myself to understand what people wearing face masks were saying. I thought, is this normal? Is everyone struggling as much as I am? I didn’t have much as a problem listening before, and then it dawned on me that I might have a hearing problem.”
Recognizing faces is one of the significant factors in learning how to communicate as a child and learning to recognize emotions. Children who are naturally more emotionally sensitive to their surroundings are especially fearful of face masks. By obscuring the face, it is also particularly tricky to notice visual cues that convey emotion or intent, and, as a result, creates anxiety when communicating. Those with a hearing loss may further isolate themselves due to this anxiety, to avoid situations where they might have to converse with people.
The Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center created a comprehensive list of tools to aid communication. From voice-to-text Apps to cue cards, these should help not only those with a hearing loss but for hearing people who what to improve communication with others too.
How We Can Help
Our team at the House of Hearing is continually working to find innovative and convenient solutions for our patients. We understand the frustrations and stresses of not being able to communicate effectively due to a hearing loss.
We’re currently offering curbside appointments to help you maintain your comfort level as we continue to be proactive and strive to protect our patients. Additionally, we offer options to speak with a doctor of audiology via phone, computer, or tablet to provide you with guidance and Tele Audiology to provide you with a diagnosis and treatment.
If you or a loved one has been struggling to hear or complaining that others are mumbling, contact us to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment. You can also reach us via phone at 801-657-4175. We look forward to assisting you and your loved ones.