#PleaseSpeakUp: Face masks proving challenging for people who are hard of hearing 1 month ago

#PleaseSpeakUp: Face masks proving challenging for people who are hard of hearing

"Add to the feeling of isolation..."

Face masks are proving challenging for a lot of people who are hard of hearing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only isolated people from their friends and family, but has made it even more difficult for those who are hearing impaired to communicate during these difficult times.

A new campaign by Irish hearing healthcare specialists Hidden Hearing is encouraging people in shops, GPs offices and elsewhere to #PleaseSpeakUp when engaging with a person who is hard of hearing.

The company are also offering free 'Please Speak Up' badges to anybody who would benefit from one during the pandemic.

“More vulnerable and elderly people are encouraged to wear face masks in public, as are those dealing with the public in their line of work," says Dolores Madden, audiologist & marketing director at Hidden Hearing.

"But unfortunately this makes it difficult to hear, and that can add to the feeling of isolation in the hearing impaired, especially when they fail to understand what is being said.

"The use of face masks and screens in retail outlets and in public places like GPs’ surgeries, makes life difficult, on account of the muffled sound effect. It is hoped that, as people recognise the #PleaseSpeakUp badge, they will speak clearly, raise their voice a little and take the time to ensure that the individual understands."

Some audiologists now believe that many people are only becoming aware that they are hard of hearing because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The use of face masks eliminates the ability to lip read, an element that could have been stopping some people from realising that they were experiencing issues with their hearing.

“Since lockdown, the Hidden Hearing helpline has dealt with many people newly concerned about their hearing," says Madden.

"When face masks affect the sound quality and you cannot see lip movements either, hearing loss is going to become much more apparent, and it may be time to consider a hearing device."

Hidden Hearing is currently engaging in urgent appointments and will reopen fully on June 8. You can order a free Please Speak Up badge by emailing info@hiddenhearing.ie.