Why Have Face Masks Had a Global Impact on the Hard of Hearing Community?

Why Have Face Masks Had a Global Impact on the Hard of Hearing Community?

by | Jul 11, 2020 | News, Patient Resources

COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it.

The limited tools available for dealing with a novel coronavirus, the initial shelter-in-place orders, social distancing, use of face masks, and other precautions have dramatically affected everyone’s life.

Though many aspects of the effects on society are readily apparent, experts from varied disciplines have been taking a closer look at the effects for those with hearing loss.

Ideally, we would all agree on the necessity and importance of using face masks during a pandemic for a virus that has high transmissibility and no readily available treatment, let alone a cure/vaccine.

But it’s also important to acknowledge and address the issues masks are having for individuals with hearing loss.

How Have Face Masks Impacted People with Hearing Loss?

Over the course of this pandemic, face masks have essentially been the only tool that has allowed people and society to function as “normally” as possible.

Unfortunately, besides the inane politicization, facemasks have created some adverse side effects.

Communication for individuals with hearing loss is invariably more challenging, even under normal circumstances.

But it has become even more so due to the necessity for face masks.

People who experience any degree of hearing loss have most likely been struggling due to what masks take away and the limited options when it comes to face masks.

Why are People and Organizations Pushing for Changes in Face Masks?

Individuals with hearing loss may not realize just how much they rely on ‘speech reading’.

Reading lip/mouth movements and facial expressions are inherent and accessible tools that even normal hearing individuals often rely upon to improve communication in different situations.

For people with hearing loss, they can be critical.  Sadly, conventional facemasks have taken away that critical information.

Every aspect of audiology is centered around easing and improving communication for our patients.

Transparent face masks are a critical component, particularly in the medical field, but now never more so and in every arena of life, especially when social distancing creates even greater communication challenges.

But even before Covid-19, the lack of transparent face masks created issues for the deaf or hearing impaired.

This story is just one instance that captures the unfair challenges and impractical circumstances that the hard of hearing are forced to face.

Clear Face Masks Should be the ‘Norm’

There are about 48 million people in the U.S. (477 million worldwide) who go through life with a loss of hearing.

Transparent facemasks should become the norm, not the exception.

The vast majority of face masks on the market or seen in the media are not accommodating for people with hearing loss, but thanks to people like Alyssa Dittmar, the co-founder of ClearMask, things are changing.

We are helping to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of face masks with a transparent window. This innovation is game-changing for the millions who depend on speech reading to communicate effectively and efficiently.

Please help us to educate people and organizations, highlighting this crucial matter, and working to change the ‘face’ of facemasks across the globe.

Ironically, like so many aspects of this dark cloud of Covid-19, there is a small silver lining.  It is forcing many people to come to terms with their hearing loss as a result.

Early identification & intervention has been conclusively proven to produce the best short and long term outcomes.

If you or a loved one has been struggling with communication, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, we encourage you to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment to identify any issues.

We have strict safety protocols for in-person appointments, to protect you, other patients, and our staff.

If you wish to take advantage of our remote services, you can schedule a TeleAudiology appointment by clicking here. Alternatively, our Drive-Thru audiology is still available for curbside repairs/hearing aid maintenance and to pick up supplies.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Jonathan Lipschutz Audiologist, M.S., F-AAA, Owner

Jonathan is the owner of Berkeley Hearing Center. He received his bachelor of science in hearing and speech science and a master of science in audiology from Purdue University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and the California Academy of Audiology. Jonathan has over 20 years of audiology and hearing aid experience in both the non-profit and corporate sectors.

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