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Masks: Combating COVID-19

Janie York
Owner,
Hear Now-Mobile Hearing Solutions

August 17, 2020

Masks… They can be a huge detriment to effective and clear communication, especially for individuals who are hard of hearing. 

According to the hearing review.com, a medical mask can cause 3-4dB of speech degradation and up to 12dB when using an N95 mask.  Here is the link to that article: 

How Do Medical Masks Degrade Speech Reception?

While 3-4dB may not sound like much, this makes a big difference for a person who is already hard of hearing.  Often when I am fine tuning hearing aids for my clients, an increase of just 2dB makes a real difference in their ability to hear and understand speech.  So, what is the answer?  How can we stay safe and continue to have effective communication?

One strategy is to use either a full-face clear mask or a face mask with a clear panel over the mouth.  Here are links to both:

www.hearnowsolutions.com/clear-panel-mask

www.hearnowsolutions.com/full-clear-face-mask

The masks allow the listener to read lips and see facial cues with more clarity.  As a hard of hearing person, myself, I struggle daily with hearing and understanding others through facemasks.  Another option, which I often use, is a remote microphone. This device will Bluetooth the voice directly to the hearing aid, which greatly increases the clarity and understanding.  I can help you determine if this device is available for the hearing aid you and / or your clients / loved one uses. 

When I am working with my clients, in addition to using the clear mask, I have a small portable PA system that fits into my pocket.  I can then amplify my voice, making up for the dBs lost through the mask.  Here is the link to the one I use:  Voice Amplifier.

In closing, it is now more important than ever to be sure you have the attention of the person with whom you are communicating, to speak clearly and, most of all, to be patient.  Remember, the hard of hearing person cannot help it; they are not trying to annoy you.  Believe me when I say, it is exceedingly difficult for them to navigate this world of sounds being even more muffled than ever before.

For more information, contact me at 402-880-3938 or janie@hearnowsolutions.com