Listening to Someone Who Is Wearing A Face Mask as a Hearing Aid User
Listening to someone talk who is wearing a face mask can cause two main difficulties.
Firstly their voice can become muffled and distorted with the barrier of the mask and the fact that the mask restricts making normal articulation of words.
Secondly it provides a visual barrier to being able to lip-read what is being said which is an important part of communication.
Tips for Being Able to Hear Someone Who is Wearing a Face Mask
Here are a few tips we would like to highlight for those looking to improve communication between yourself and others when wearing a face mask.
Look for Additional Cues
As well as being able to see what someone is talking about via their lips, you can gauge what is being said with their eyes, whether this is a happy or sad topic being spoken about.
You can also tell from their body language and hand gestures what they are trying to say and interperet what is being communicated.
Forward thinking about what you want to talk about can help direct or redirect the conversation.
If you know what you want to converse, finding a way to say this as efficiently and simply as possible will help tremendously.
Don't Be Afraid To Say You Are Having Difficulty
It's important that if you don't understand what is being said that you ask the person who is talking to repeat themsevles and to talk slowly and clearly.
By politely asking to make these changes this is also providing some deaf awareness for future conversation the person may have with other people who are Deaf of hard of hearing.
And the sooner this is brought to their attention the better this is for everyone. Communication will slow down and become more clearer for all involved whenever people are wearing masks.
Yes or No answers
Asking closed ended questions means you know what answers you are expecting, and it is easy to differentiate between YES and NO.
Along with a yes or a no can come a nod or shake of the head, which means two ways to get the answer, through a verbal answer and also a physical movement of the head.
Carry a Notepad and Pen With You
A notepad and pen is quite underated in today's technology based society but being able to write down what you are saying can help those who are hard of hearing and are having trouble understanding you.
There is no need to pass on the notepad or pen, so that you can keep with the 2m social distance guidelines.
The note pad can also be a handy place to write down helpful reminders of questions you needed to ask or information you needed to gain while being out.
Give a Speech to Text app a Try
There are a number of speech to text apps available now. Check out our blog, the best speech to text apps for deaf and hard of hearing. These are a handy addition to have downloaded onto your phone for when shopping or out in places where it is quiet enough to pick up someone's voice and translate it into text on your phone for you to read clearly.
With these applications, it means no one needs to break social distance guidelines as well and you can speak in to the phone and then show the text from a distance for those to see.
Here are a few example scenarios when some of these ideas may come in useful.
At the Supermarket
Use a supermarket you know well, if you know where things are and this makes it easier to get what you need without asking anyone.
If you do need to ask where an item is use one of the tips mentioned above with the staff member.
At the check out counter their should be a hearing loop system fitted which will allow you to hear the cashier without the background noise of the supermarket hussle and bussle.
Switch your hearing aid over to this setting while at the counter and when you are walking out of the shop turn it back to it's normal setting.
I would recommend giving your hearing aid a little wipe over after this once you have washed your hands with an anti-bacterial wipe.
Buying a Train Ticket
Instead of buying tickets face to face many tickets for transport and enterainment can be bought online and displayed on your smart phone.
This way your interaction with the attendant on the train should be much simpler, it will be a case of showing them your ticket on your phone. If you do need to communicate and are having difficulty you can use your same phone to write notes on or use speech to text to then show the conductor.
At the Post Office
Need to pop something in the post? Your post office will be well equipped with a loop system but if you don't have one of these on your hearing aid.
Don't panic, take your time and if you can't understand what they are asking you behind the screen ask them to write it down clearly on paper for you.
There is also the option if you are internet savy to use the Post Office online https://parcel.royalmail.com/ which allows you to print the required postage stamp off at home and then just drop it off at a Post Office drop off point. You will have to be able to weigh the parcel yourself at home accurately for this service to work.