Hearing Loss And Face Masks: Top Tips For Communicating

Hearing loss and face masks

More and more people are wearing face coverings because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This poses problems for those with hearing loss, especially if they rely on lipreading.

Lisa Cox, a lipreading tutor, gives her top tips for coping in situations where face coverings are necessary.

I’m Lisa Cox, a lipreading and managing hearing loss tutor with profound hearing loss. Using lipreading and communication tactics, along with my residual hearing, I can follow conversations well – even in noisy pubs!

But like many of us with hearing loss, I have had a new challenge to face just recently…..understanding people wearing masks. So here are my top tips.

• You are your own best advocate. Tell people what the problem is and how they can help.
• Understand it’s not your fault. Communication is a two-way process and both parties have a responsibility to ensure it is successful.
• Encourage your friends to wear a mask with a window (like the one in the picture).
• Use speech to text apps such as LiveTranscribe/Otter.
• Wear a badge that explains that you can’t lipread people wearing masks.
• Companions of people who need to see lips to hear are exempt from wearing masks on public transport. Badges are available for you to wear to explain this.
• Wear a ‘sunflower lanyard’ to show you have a hidden disability.
• Ask people to speak more clearly and slightly more slowly.
• Service provides may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 if they do not make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help you understand (e.g. write something down).

Online course

Living with hearing loss can be difficult. Why not come along to a class to meet others in the same situation? I start new classes once a year in September. Lipreading and managing hearing loss classes are held in Orpington at the Poverest Centre in Poverest Road, from 2pm to 4pm on Mondays.

Enrolment is now open. To find out more ring 01689 822886 or email [email protected]

I also have a ‘Living Well with Hearing Loss’ course which is taught entirely online using captioned video conferencing. CityLit runs this and it is a four-week course starting in September. There is no lipreading as it is about managing hearing loss, with strategies, communication tips, information about services and equipment etc.

This course is taught via Google Meets which is captioned and fully accessible for people with hearing loss. The beauty of this course is that anyone can join it anywhere in the country and not worry about Covid restrictions.

Find out more here.

For more details about any of these courses contact Lisa at [email protected]