• Face Masks and Hearing Loss: How to Effectively Communicate

    Face Masks and Hearing Loss: How to Effectively Communicate

    Facial masks are becoming the new normal as social distancing requirements begin to relax. Many normal hearing individuals take for granted the relative ease it is to communicate; however, individuals with hearing loss struggle exponentially under these new requirements. 

    Facial masks, on average, reduce the volume of speech anywhere from approximately 5-15 decibels. They limit the availability to read facial cues, which many people rely on to enhance communication. Moreover, most facial masks impede the ability of the listener to read lips. Collectively, these facial masks cause greater difficulty communicating, particularly for individuals with hearing loss.

    To help overcome this additional barrier, individuals struggling to communicate should follow a few steps to enhance communication. First, if you have a hearing aid, wear it. This will help improve the signal (or speech) you wish to hear. Second, when talking with your conversational partner, let them know you have hearing loss. Ask them to speak slower and louder (but not shout) to help you hear what they are saying. Third, if you are in a loud environment, try to reduce the background noise whenever possible. If there is a fan making excessive noise, move away from it or turn it down/off. Removing background noise or moving away from the noise will help improve the signal-to-noise ratio. Last, some hospitals and clinics have portable hearing amplifiers to help aid communication. Ask if these devices are available if you need it. 

    Overall, facial masks cause greater difficulty communicating, but there are some steps you can take to overcome these challenges. Contact The Hearing Place Oak Park at 708.445.7171 to learn more about ways we can help you hear. If we can help improve communication for individuals with hearing loss with those they love, we are happy to do so.