It’s as all the commercials are saying – these are difficult times for a lot of us. Everyone is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways, most of which range from inconvenient to devastating.
One group of people that have been hard done by during the pandemic and its repercussions is the hearing loss community. With masks and social distancing becoming recommended or even mandatory in many public places, it can be tricky to communicate with a community that relies on context given by lip-reading.
Some solutions have been developed, like clear face guards or masks with see-through sections inserted into them, but these aren’t always widely available. To help you or a loved one get a firmer grasp on how to help those with hearing loss deal with COVID-19, we’ve compiled a few tips and resources.
COVID-19 Masks: Communication Tips for those with Hearing Loss
So to sum those up:
- Let the person know you’ve started talking to them – don’t say their name to start a conversation, catch their eye or pass them a note
- Write down anything that needs further clarification
- If possible, move somewhere quieter to talk
If you’re a person with hearing loss:
- Ensure hearing aid is worn and working properly/clean – 20% of people with hearing aids don't wear them
- Ensure your hearing aid batteries are charged
- When wearing a mask, secure your hearing aid with wig/masking tape or a headband so it’s not affected
- Use a tie up mask rather than one with ear loops
- Use an extender for your mask to tie it around the back of your head rather than around your ears
Those tips were intended for those who experience hearing loss, but people with slightly impaired hearing also have issues, in slightly different ways. Here are a few tips to help those who might not have a profound level of hearing loss, but still struggle to hear in certain situations.
Wearing a Face Mask? Helpful Tips for Communicating with the Hearing Impaired
- Speak loudly and clearly
- If possible, move the conversation to a place with not a lot of surrounding noise – away from cars and other people
- Ask if they have a preference for how to talk or communicate
- Make sure they get all the important points you're trying to tell them – write down to ensure they do. This can be done on a mobile phone.
- Use body language and hands to help communicate – point at things, gesture, use thumbs up or down to confirm
- Use synonyms or reword sentences they can’t understand
There have been a lot of things to get used to recently, and everyone has their own hurdles to clear during this pandemic. As long as we take each other’s health and circumstances into account, we will be able to get through this together.