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Mandatory wearing of face masks – the impact on people with hearing loss
Posted: 6th Oct 2020

 

How has the change in rules towards face masks effected people with hearing loss?

Research by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention states that masks are recommended as a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from travelling into the air, which is called source control. This is recommended due to the role that these droplets play in the spread of the virus.

However, those with hearing aids find wearing masks difficult, due the loop behind the ear and the struggle to communicate effectively. According to Hearing Link, in the UK there are 11 million people who suffer from having hearing loss, which is around 1 in 6 of the adult population.

ENT & Audiology News reports on how speech is transmitted and wearing masks prevents the use of lip reading, making even going to the shop a taxing experience for those with hearing impairments. Some areas of sign language will also be compromised, as facial expressions are hidden, in turn, creating a scary and vulnerable place for people whom rely on these methods of communication. The BBC, has reported on the issue, their report can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-52659083.

The Hearing Care Centre launches pin badges campaign


The Hearing Care Centre based in East Anglia provide the latest hearing aid technology for users as the current leading manufacturer. The centre wanted to help local people who are finding wearing a mask difficult, by providing a “Please Speak Clearly” badge. The badges will alert anyone that the wearer has hearing loss and may need assistance in communicating if the reciprocate is wearing a face mask.

The Hearing Care Centre have seen a huge response to this initiative with 350 free badges issued since it was launched in July. Here at the Ipswich Building Society, we want to do all we can to support those within our communities who are deaf and suffering from hearing loss - that’s why you can pick up one of the pin badges from any of our 9 branches across Suffolk free of charge.

Kesha Allen, Membership and Local Marketing Manager at Ipswich Building Society commented “We’re delighted to support the Hearing Care Centre in raising awareness of the impact face coverings have on people who are deaf or suffer from hearing loss. Pop into one of our branches to collect a free pin badge which could help identify a friend or family member who may need additional communication support whilst out in the community.”

If you wish to find out more information about the ‘Please Speak Clearly’ campaign or The Hearing Care Centre, please visit their website: https://www.hearingcarecentre.co.uk/

Remember and Apply

While there are many things that we cannot control, such as background noise, there are several steps we can take to try and make it as easy as possible to communicate with those who are deaf or have hearing loss.

The Healthy Hearing, have reported on the below points to bear in mind to make communicating easier:

  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Rather than repeating the same sentence, if they do not understand, try to reword what you would like to say.
  • Gesture if possible.
  • Ask the individual what may help.
  • Please be patient, as it could be a very stressful situation for someone.

Just taking a few extra minutes to try and make the situation easier, could really mean the world to someone.

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