Communication Matters

Face Masks Make Communication Difficult for Those with Hearing Loss

Laura L. Brady, AuD, CCC-A | Posted on July 16, 2020

iStock-1205027546With the COVID-19 global pandemic and the suggested (and at times required) use of face masks, people with hearing loss are limited in their ability to use their vision to support their hearing and communication.

Everyone naturally uses their vision to support their hearing. If we see lightning we know there will be thunder; if we see something fall, we know it will make a sound. Even without sound, we can watch a football game and often “see” what an unhappy coach is saying to a player who just fumbled a ball.

At one time, we referred to this is “lip reading,” but now the preferred term is “speechreading” as we use more than just the mouth and lip movements to “see what someone is saying.” We use facial expressions, body posture, hand movements, and eye contact along with knowledge of the speaker, linguistics, situational cues, and topic knowledge. A person we know well will likely talk about topics, people’s names, events, and places that are already familiar which gives us a head start.

With the use of face masks, many people now realize how reliant they were on their vision to hear well. More than ever, we want to help ensure that your functional hearing is at the best level possible. Hearing aid use optimizes the possibility that speech will be clearly heard and can greatly reduce the listening effort and fatigue that can come with struggling to hear. When hearing loss negatively impacts communication, it can cause frustration in any relationship - whether personal or professional.

If you are having difficulty hearing or communicating, contact the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center for an evaluation.

For tips on wearing a mask with hearing aids - watch this helpful video:

 

Tags: Hearing Aid, Audiology, Communication, Hearing, Hearing Loss Prevention, Hard of Hearing, Hearing Loss, "ears", Face masks

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