Masks are now required in many public settings to keep down the spread of COVID-19, but for those that are hearing impaired it makes communicating difficult.
“It’s a frightening time for everyone, it’s stressful and when we can’t hear and understand it makes that stress a little greater,” said Dr. Kathleen Eimers.
Dr. Eimers is an audiologist and owns Dr. Eimers Hearing Clinic in Cheboygan.
“Now we have a mask covering the face which makes it more challenging for those who are trying to understand and hear,” Dr. Eimers said. “People with hearing loss rely on speech reading, looking at your lips and seeing those facial cues,” Dr. Eimers said.
Masks also quiet things down.
“Research has found that a mask can change the volume anywhere from 3 to 12 decibels,” Dr. Eimers said. “It’s essentially like taking your television and taking it down all these notches.”
We can all help make sure our neighbors can understand us-even with a mask on.
“Speaking clearly, slowing your speech and enunciating but don’t make it so it’s over the top and dramatic,” Dr. Eimers said.
Dr. Eimers says project, but don’t shout.
“That can actually sound more distorted to someone who has difficulty hearing,” Dr. Eimers said.
If that doesn’t help, take a few steps away and remove your mask so they can see your lips.
“I think if you can keep 6 feet distance and you feel comfortable, there is not harm in that,” Dr. Eimers said.
“It’s frustrating for everyone, so taking that step to understand and just trying to make things a little easier for those people is really important,” Dr. Eimers said.