Medical professionals help people with hearing loss stay informed and connected during COVID-19 crisis

Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing need to see a speaker’s face to help them communicate effectively, so it’s important to help them get the information they need.
By: Alison Larabie Chase
May 11, 2020
Mladen Antonov / AFP via Getty Images

Many people, including medical professionals, are now wearing masks to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19. But masks also block facial expressions and lip movements and reduce the volume of the speaker’s voice. That all makes it much harder for hearing-impaired people to understand what’s being said to them.

Audiologists at the Wavefront Centre in Vancouver are combating this issue by wearing clear face shields, rather than masks, when seeing patients. The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association recommends that medical professionals wear masks with clear inserts over the mouth area, if possible. However, these masks are not easy to find. One audiologist in North Carolina, Dr. Sheri Mello, put out a call for volunteers to sew some masks with clear windows, which she handed out to patients, family members, and clinic staff.

Other tips from medical professionals include downloading voice-to-text apps and making sure to speak clearly and in a well-lit space if you know that the person you’re talking to has hearing loss. Many governments are also providing sign-language interpretation at news conferences about COVID-19.

Source: Vancouver Star, CBC Radio