During the COVID-19 pandemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you wear a mask or face covering in public to help prevent the spread of the virus.
However, wearing a mask adds extra challenges for people with hearing impairments.
Not only is it harder for you to understand others who are wearing masks, the ear loops from your own mask may tug on your hearing aids and cause other problems.
“Many patient complain that it is difficult to remove their face mask without also removing their hearing aids,” said Dr. Rebecca Bredl, audiologist at Marshfield Clinic Health System.
Keeping hearing aids intact
Because there are so many types of hearing aids, Bredl recommends you first talk to your audiologist.
Additionally, you can try a few creative options:
- Wear a mask with soft fabric ties to relieve the pressure on the ears, instead of elastic.
- Use a special mask extender with buttons or other holders to attach the mask loops onto, on the back of the head, instead of the ears.
- Using simple tools like plastic s-hooks to loop the mask onto, instead of your ears.
Talking with a mask
Bredl also shared some tips for when you are wearing a mask and talking to someone who is hearing impaired. Even if you aren’t hearing impaired, wearing a mask can make conversations more difficult.
She recommends that you:
- Speak slowly, clearly and at a normal volume.
- Rephrase remarks when not understood.
- Keep background noise to a minimum.
- Take turns speaking.
- Face each other (at a safe distance).