COVID-19 Communication Challenges & Hearing Loss

Covid-19 and the regulatory use of face masks and social distancing has posed a number of communication challenges for individuals with and without hearing loss.

Masks and the Challenges they pose to hearing and communication:

Wearing facemasks poses two communication challenges:

  1. Masks cover the mouth, restricting any visual speech cues the wearer might receive. Visual cues are particularly important for listeners in background noise, as visual cues provide additional information when the acoustic signal is degraded.
  2. Masks can impact the acoustic properties of the speech signal itself. Research has shown that masks cause a high frequency reduction between 2KHz and 7KHz. A surgical face mask causes up to a 12dB decrease in high frequency volume. A normal cloth face covering reduces high frequencies by 1 to 6 decibels. A properly fitted N95 mask can reduce high frequency gain by 12dB.
Face mask attenuation graph

Here are some tips to consider when communicating with someone who has hearing difficulties:

Here are some tips to consider when communicating with someone who has hearing difficulties:

At Candice van Heerden Audiology, we have started to provide our patients with a dedicated program to use when communicating with others who are using a face mask. In this dedicated program, we increase the gain or volume of the hearing aids in the required frequency ranges to overcome the dampening effects of the masks.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing a hearing loss, please contact us to book an appointment in Bedfordview or Benoni by calling our office on 011 615 3047 or email candice@cvhaudiology.co.za