The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely changed the lives of many individuals. In particular, the hearing impaired population is affected by masks because they are unable to use lipreading cues and the quality of speech is reduced. Here are some tips to communicate when wearing a mask:
- Prepare in advance to keep your interactions short to increase your comprehension and preserve your energy. Moreover, if permitted, you can bring a friend or family member to help you with communication.
- Determine how you want to communicate your needs. You may want to prepare something in writing claiming that you are hearing impaired and that you can not hear well when masks are worn.
- Practice and exercise communication strategies. You may want the speaker to speak a bit louder and slower. Always bring paper and pen as a back up. Prior to your engagement, you can also anticipate what will be said due to context and setting.
- Try out and use smartphone apps that can help facilitate communication. Consider speech-to-text apps such as Google Live Transcribe (Android Only), Ava and Otter.
- Consider using assistive listening devices that can extend a hearing aid’s range in picking up spoken language at a distance. For example, you may want a remote microphone or a personal FM system.
- Request clear masks are worn.
- Put face masks on and off carefully to avoid dislodging and potentially losing your hearing device.
- Be mindful of the range of emotions you may experience before, during and after interactions where masks are worn. Be kind to yourself, practice self-care and remember, this is temporary.