Communicating with Face Masks and Hearing Loss

Communicating with face masks and hearing loss is tougher than most people realize. Learning how to communicate while wearing face masks has become essential due to COVID-19.

While face masks have been advised for preventative measures as a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, individuals with hearing loss have seen an increased difficulty in communication. Many patients with hearing loss rely on lip reading to assist them with understanding speech, and face masks prevent the speaker’s mouth from being visible. In addition, face masks can cause speech to become muffled, which can also make speech comprehension challenging.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when communicating with a person with hearing loss:

Pictogram with tips on communicating when wearing a mask
Photo Source

1.       Make sure that the person with hearing loss is wearing their hearing aids or assistive listening device. Also make sure that it is on and functioning.

2.       Make sure to face your communication partner when speaking while maintaining social distancing space.

3.       When communicating, speak in an area with minimal background noise.

4.       Ensure to take turns when speaking and try to refrain from interrupting and cutting your communication partner. Keep your speaking voice at a normal volume while speaking slowly and clearly.

5.       If your communication partner did not understand what was said, try rephrasing the statement rather than repeating.

Person’s with hearing loss can also use these tips to help advocate for themselves when communication partners are using face masks!

Three young adults wearing face masks and looking at one smart phone. Text of COVID 19 & Hearing loss. It's harder to understand people when they have on a mask.
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For tips on how to make wearing hearing aids and face masks more comfortable, check out our previous blog post.

Blog post by Dr. Ashley Price, Au.D

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