As Miami-Dade and surrounding counties allow more businesses and facilities to reopen amid the Coronavirus pandemic, we begin to see the changes that will come with transitioning back to normal. One of the main adjustments is wearing a face mask when visiting most businesses and public places. While it may seem simple enough, face masks becoming the “new normal” poses obstacles for the hearing impaired community; fortunately, there are ways to overcome these difficulties.
Most face masks are designed to stay in place by looping around the ears; depending on the type of hearing aid a person wears, this can make putting on, taking off and even wearing a face mask difficult. BTE, “behind-the-ear”, and RIC, “receiver-in-the-canal”, hearing aids have pieces that sit or hook right behind the ear, which is where most face mask bands hook as well. This can cause irritation behind the ear and also make it easier to knock hearing aids out of place when putting on or taking off a face mask. To avoid these issues, look for a face mask with straps that can be tied behind your head instead of the standard elastic loops. If you already have the elastic loop face mask, you can opt to purchase face mask extenders.
In addition to the obstacles of wearing a face mask with hearing aids, people with hearing loss face a communication barrier with others wearing a face mask. For instance, face masks become a sound barrier that can muffle speech making it hard for those with hearing loss to hear someone speaking to them. This gets worse in noisy environments or if the speaker is not nearby or facing the person with hearing loss. Additionally, some hearing loss sufferers practice lip or speech reading to help during conversation, and since most face masks are opaque, this option is eliminated. To combat this obstacle, medical practitioners who frequently work with hearing loss patients opt for transparent face masks. For hearing aid wearers, it is important to inform others about your hearing loss and ask that they face you and speak up and clearly during conversation.
For more tips or assistance on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic with hearing loss, feel free to reach out to the experts at New Generation Hearing Centers. We are open and ready to serve you with CDC guidelines in place