A guide to communicating with hearing aids and masks
Dr. Molly E. Bishop, Au.D., FAAA, CCC-A
Navigating our noisy world with hearing loss can be difficult. When we add a mask to the equation, it can be nearly impossible to communicate effectively. Goldin and colleagues found that speech can be decreased up to 12 decibels when wearing a mask (2020). In order to make your lives easier, we have put together a list of tips and tricks for communicating in the new era of masks. We have also included different ways to keep your hearing aids safe while wearing your mask.
How to communicate better while wearing a mask
It is important to keep in mind that lip reading is a vital communication tool for those with hearing loss. When you are wearing a mask, it makes it more difficult to understand what is being said. Here are a few tips for communicating effectively while wearing a mask.
- Speak slowly, clearly, and at a normal volume.
Remember: do not shout at the person to whom you are talking. This can be painful to a person with hearing loss.
- Rephrase sentences when they are not understood.
Try saying something a different way.
- Keep background noise in the room to a minimum, if possible.
- Get the person’s attention before speaking.
- Ask how someone prefers to communicate.
Maybe the person you are talking to prefers another form of communication such as written communication. Do not hesitate to ask them what they prefer.
- Consider the use of assistive listening devices.
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) such as remote microphones and FM systems can aid in communication by streaming the speaker’s voice directly into the hearing aids. If interested, ask your audiologist to try ALDs.
- Always remember to be patient, kind, and courteous.
How to keep your hearing aids safe while wearing a mask
- Secure you hearing aids to your clothing with OtoClips.
These clips are designed to pin to your clothing to catch your hearing aid if it comes out of your ear while removing your mask. Ask your audiologist if you are interested in ordering OtoClips.
- If wearing a mask that loops around the ears, make sure your hearing aids are closest to your head and then put the mask loops over your ears but on the outer side of your ear, this will prevent the mask from getting tangled with your hearing aids.
- Use a mask extender/holder (link provided below).
A mask extender is worn at the back of the head and hold the ear loops of the mask to reduce interference with the hearing aids.
- Get a mask with four strings that ties behind the head (link provided below).
- Wear a cloth headband with buttons to avoid contact with the ears (link provided below).
Links for masks and mask accessories to prevent contact with hearing aids
Mask extenders: https://www.amazon.com/JAWENJOY-Silicone-Extension-Adjustable-Protector/dp/B0896441GH/ref=sr_1_9?crid=A0E5MM3LK5K7&dchild=1&keywords=mask+extenders%2Fear+savers&qid=1599059601&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A2661618011&rnid=2661617011&rps=1&sprefix=mask+ex%2Caps%2C155&sr=8-9
Adjustable mask extender: https://www.amazon.com/Mask-Extender-Adjustable-Food-Workers-Breathable/dp/B0882KNCG3/ref=sr_1_8?crid=A0E5MM3LK5K7&dchild=1&keywords=mask%2Bextenders%2Fear%2Bsavers&qid=1599059594&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A2661618011&rnid=2661617011&rps=1&sprefix=mask%2Bex%2Caps%2C155&sr=8-8&th=1
Mask to tie behind head: https://www.amazon.com/Levis-Re-Usable-Reversible-Small-Charcoal/dp/B087YKDHP2/ref=sr_1_36?ots=1&slotNum=2&imprToken=06ba27b3-779a-abbc-33d&tag=advancepenn-20&linkCode=w50&crid=1EAB30KKRE02O&dchild=1&keywords=best%2Bselling%2Bcloth%2Bface%2Bmasks&qid=1593111336&sprefix=green%2Bmountain%2Bmaple%2B%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-36&th=1
Headband with buttons: https://www.amazon.com/Headbands-Buttons-Nurses-Doctors-Headwrap/dp/B08BYGW82W/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=black%2Bheadband%2Bwith%2Bbuttons%2Bfor%2Bmask&qid=1599060464&refinements=p_72%3A2661618011%2Cp_85%3A2470955011&rnid=2470954011&rps=1&sr=8-11&th=1