CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) — With COVID-19 spreading, the CDC has recommended everyone to wear face coverings when going out. however this raises a problem for those who are hearing impaired.
Hearing health care providers say they’re having a huge problem with those that are hearing impaired when it comes to effectively communicating due to face mask requirements.
Pinky Khatri, Doctor of Audiology said, “When you have hearing difficulties you rely a lot on visual cues to be able to fill in the gaps and understand what is being said. When you wear a mask you no longer have that visual cues to follow along the conversation.”
One of the biggest concerns Khatri said is hearing impaired people going to the hospital, or going to get tested for the virus. She also said she has reached out to local groups so other health care providers can have clear masks. One in particular is the Million Mask Challenge based in Virginia, DC, and Maryland.
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“They were one of the groups that I reached out to and I’ve had a few people” said Khatri.
Dr. Courtney Little at Family Hearing Services said as someone who is hearing impaired herself, she has experienced this first hand.
Little said, “Regular masks not only take away the visual cues that many many people rely on but it also muffles the sound coming out. It really makes people less aware of annunciating their words and looking at the speaker because they don’t think that’s important because their mouth is covered.”
According to Little, clear masks allows people to see lips moving, and this also benefits those are who are not hearing impaired because many people still read lips to a certain degree.
“It’s very important to me to not let the hearing impaired become isolated. Joining up with this program to give as many people the clear masks as possible, but not only the hearing impaired but people who work with the hearing impaired, and people in the community. The last thing you want to see is people not going out, not communicating with others” said Little.