The Challenge of Hearing Through a Mask
Masks challenge communication in two ways. The first is buy covering the mouth, they restrict visual speech cues the listener might receive in terms of facial expression and lip movements. 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. While that might look like a small number, it is actually a reduction of more than 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.
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.
We Can Help with Hearing Aid Settings
As part of our ongoing Continuous Care Guarantee, adjustments and programming updates are completely free. For help, give us a call and we can walk you through the changes over the phone. If you prefere the in person approarch, by all means make an appointment to stop in by calling us at (204) 788-1083 or contact us online.