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Family With Covid-19 Anti-VirusMasks

The Challenge of Hearing Through a Mask

Masks challenge communication in two ways. The first is due to masks covering the mouth. In doing so they restrict visual speech cues the listener might receive. The second is that masks change the acoustic properties of the speech itself. This article provides some suggestions to help with adjusting your hearing aids to make listening to speech through masks a bit easier.

The Acoustic Impact of Masks

Research has shown that the high frequency range (2000-7000 Hz) needed for understanding speech is affected by masks. A simple medical mask can reduce the effective volume by as much as 3-4 d dB. That is a reduction of about half the original volume. For a N95 masks, there can be a reduction of as much as 12 dB which translates to decreasing the volume to 1/16th of the original level. See figure 1 below.

Although required in many situations, social distancing reduces the effective listening volume level even further.

Figure 1. Face mask attenuation shown in dB by frequency for a simple face mask and a N95 face mask (adapted from Goldin, Weinstein, and Shiman, 2020). Diagram courtesy of Signia.

Better Hearing Aid Settings - Signia

Users of the Xperience hearing aids from Signia can use the Signia App to enable a Face Mask Mode. The Face Mask Mode is located in the Signia App next to the volume control adjustment. The mode makes specific changes to the hearing aid settings with a single touch of a button.

The Face Mask Mode activated in the Signia app.

We Can Help with Hearing Aid Settings

As part of our ongoing Continuous Care Guarantee, adjustments and programming updates are completely free. Due to COVID-19 we do not accept walk-ins for now. You are however most welcome though to make an appointment to stop in by calling us at (204) 788-1083 or contact us online.