Hearing aid manufacturer Signia has created a new mode for their hearing aids that allows easier listening when talking to someone wearing a facemask.
One of the unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak is the impact on the hearing loss community. With more and more people wearing facemasks, a lot of conversational context is being lost by the lack of mouth visibility.
What’s the problem?
You might know that people with hearing loss often rely on lipreading for communication, allowing them to understand what someone’s saying even without hearing them.
It’s obvious that your ability to lip read would be greatly impaired by everyone’s mouths being covered by masks, but it’s not just those with profound hearing loss who suffer when our mouths are covered. Whether you realise it or not, a lot of conversational context comes from seeing your partner’s mouth during conversation.
If someone with even mild hearing loss can’t see the mouth of whoever they’re talking to due to a mask, they’re going to miss a lot more than normal.
How has Signia fixed the problem?
Some people wear see-through (or ‘window’) masks when communicating with someone with hearing loss, but obviously this is the exception, not the rule. That’s why hearing aid manufacturer Signia has taken point and implemented software that allows those with hearing loss to switch to a “mask mode.”
This mode has been available on their app from July 20th, and applies to all hearing aids that are compatible with the app. The exact science isn’t public, and if it was it would probably be too verbose to understand, but Signia has stated:
“The hearing aids optimally capture the sound of the speech signals so that the words sound clearer and any background noise is reduced to help you understand what is being said.”
It seems to focus specifically on isolating the noise from the speaker and ignoring background noise, which is generally what hearing aids do, but this mode ramps it up to the extreme to make sure you’re hearing every letter that your partner says.
To the future
No one really knows how long we’ll need to adapt to these new coronavirus-related changes – they might even be around for good. If this is the case, then it’s good that hearing aid companies are taking the initiative and helping their customers to adapt to this new normal.
Keep your eyes on Clear Living to see the next big developments in the hearing aid world!