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Minimizing Face Masks Impact on The Hearing Impaired

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Candice and family.

The controversy around the general public wearing masks has been resolved. Prior to April 6th, 2020 the Public Health Agency of Canada suggested masks may create transmission problems when fighting COVID-19. They now state that “…use of a non-medical mask or facial covering can be an additional measure you can take to protect others around you.” Besides protecting people around, you, masks also make communication more difficult for people with hearing loss.

Masks help stop the primary driver of the COVID-19 pandemic - respiratory droplet transmission from coughing.


The Effect of Masks On Communicating With The Hard of Hearing

Many employees and customers of the essential businesses that we still need to visit, have begun to wear masks at an ever-increasing rate. While this is a great move towards helping to flatten the curve, it can make it much harder for people with hearing loss to understand a person’s voice. The muffled effect of a person speaking with a mask on is like trying to hear with a set of earmuffs on. Many people that are hard of hearing often rely on lipreading (both formally trained and informally learned) to help understand a conversation. Combine muffled speech with no ability to see a speaker’s lips and 2 metres of social distancing to top it off, what was once a manageable hearing loss can now become a severe disability.

People who could normally read my lips now can't understand me because of a mask

3 Easy Tips For Speech Clarity

If you’re in a situation where you believe a person is having a hard time hearing you, you can help them with just a little effort and some patience. Not being able to hear is as frustrating for the person trying to communicate with you as it is for you. Here are 3 easy things you can do:

  1. Try speaking a little bit slower.
  2. Raise you voice within reason.
  3. Be prepared to repeat yourself.

One in ten people in Canada suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

Apps to Assist Communication

Text to speech apps can make a real difference. Android users can use Live Transcribe https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.audio.hearing.visualization.accessibility.scribe that is built on Google's state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition technology. Apple Users can use the app called MyEar https://apps.apple.com/us/app/app-myear/id1299527104 for speech-to-text transcription. Be sure to test the apps a head of time so you know how to use them and what the  limitations are.

More Resources During COVID-19

We have been deemed an essential service and will continue to provide curb side and emergency services. Just call ahead (204) 788-1083 or contact us online and we will set up an appointment. The Government of Canada’s public health service page is a great resource for dealing with the current pandemic and can be found here. Manitoba’s COVID-19 page is found here and has local updates and support resources. Stay home and stay safe!