The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a challenging time, especially for those with hearing loss. Many hard of hearing individuals rely on visual cues such as lip-reading to help with speech understanding, in addition to their hearing aids. The mandatory usage of masks to limit the spread of the virus poses a barrier for those who lip read. During this time, we must all be mindful of the challenges the hearing impaired are facing and do what we can to help make communication as easy as possible.
Below are some helpful tips for more effective communication:
1. Speak slowly and clearly, using short sentences. Pay attention to cues that the person you are speaking with can understand what you are saying.
2. Maintain eye contact and refrain from too many hand movements that cover your face.
3. Suggest they consider purchasing an accessory to pair with their hearing aids (like the Beltone™ MyPal Pro for Beltone hearing aid wearers), as streaming your voice directly into their hearing aids will significantly improve speech understanding. These types of accessories can be effective during one-on-one conversations, group conversations, television watching, and in public where background noise can create further difficulty hearing.
4. If the hearing aid wearer doesn’t have a compatible smartphone for streaming, there may be other accessories that will assist (like the Beltone Phone Link 2), which is a great solution for streaming phone calls, face-time calls, virtual meetings, music, and other audio.
5. There are transcription apps that can help, as they transcribe speech in real-time. Listed are a few options that can be downloaded in the Google Play Store or Apple Store:
• Live Transcribe
• Transcribe Voice Notes to Text
• Transcribe Recorder
Goldin A, Weinstein BE, Shiman N.(2020). How do medical masks degrade speech perception? Hearing Review. 27(5):8-9.