Hearing loss experts Clear Living have launched two visual guides featuring guidance and tips for improved communication for the D/deaf and HoH community during the pandemic.
With more people wearing face coverings or masks during the pandemic and following distancing rules and regulations, many people are facing loneliness and isolation.
Those who often rely on lip-reading and increased speaking volume to understand people properly are facing challenges due to coverings and social distancing.
“COVID has made communication for people with hearing loss even more difficult, whether they already wear hearing aids or not,” explains Dr Lindsey Banks, an audiologist for Clear Living.
“Hearing over a distance via social distancing, a lack of lipreading cues because of masks, and a degradation of speech volume due to plastic barriers in front of counters or windows, have all added extra challenges.
“These COVID modifications have made people with hearing loss really struggle in their everyday communication environments.”
Now, Clear Living has introduced two visual guides aimed directly at those living with hearing loss and hearing aid users. The visuals have been created to provide a more effective form of communication – ensuring nobody is left behind as the pandemic continues.
Although advice such as wearing a hearing aid may seem obvious, research has shown that up to 20 per cent of hearing aids users don’t wear them.
Many face masks are also worn by looping around the ear – which can affect a hearing aid when worn.
This guide offers practical solutions such as using masking tape to secure a hearing aid in place as well as using tie up masks and/or mask tie extenders to avoid any strain on it.
The second visual guide is aimed to give the general public some helpful communication ideas to those with hearing loss as well as raising awareness to the issue at this time.
An overview of the tips and guidelines includes letting the person know you’ve started talking to them by catching their eye or passing a note; writing down anything that requires further clarification; if possible, moving to a quieter location to talk.
For people wearing hearing aids or living with hearing loss, it’s important to ensure you wear your hearing aid – and ensuring the batteries are charged; securing your hearing aid when wearing a mask.
It is also advised that, where possible, you wear a tie up mask rather than masks or coverings with ear loops.