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Improving Communication When Wearing a Face Covering

Written by

Jeanne Graulich
Jeanne Graulich
Jeanne Graulich, MA, CCC-A is an audiologist on staff to guide your hearing aid journey in a safe and practical way. Jeanne brings over 30 years of experience fitting hearing aids, specializing in fittings with adults. Her passion for improving communication and overall quality of life shines through in every interaction.

Wearing face masks whenever we are out of the house is necessary in view of the Covid pandemic and will be for some time to come.  Facemasks may interrupt communication by interfering with sound transmission and preventing visual cues from being seen. It is very frustrating for hearing impaired individuals.

8 Tips for Improving Communication When Wearing a Face Covering

Be aware

Is the person you’re communicating with having trouble understanding you? Ask and adapt if needed.

Be patient

Face coverings block visual cues and muffle sounds that help us understand speech, which can make interactions frustrating.

Be mindful

Consider how physical distancing might affect your communication. As distance increases, sound levels decrease, and visual cues are more difficult to see.

Be loud and clear

Speak up, but don’t shout. Focus on speaking clearly. Consider wearing a clear face covering, if possible. If you’re having trouble understanding, ask the person you’re talking with to speak louder. If you lip-read, ask those you interact with regularly to wear a clear face covering.

Turn down the background volume

Background noise can make conversation especially hard. When possible, move to a quieter spot or turn down the sound.

Communicate another way

Use a smartphone talk-to-text application or writing tools (paper/pen, whiteboard) to communicate.

Confirm that your statement is clear

Ask if your message has been understood.

Bring a friend or be a friend

If it’s essential that you comprehend important spoken details—during a discussion with a health care provider, for example—consider bringing a friend or family member with you. Or, offer to come along to listen and take notes when a friend has an important appointment or meeting.

Reference:  National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov