Hearing Loss & Masks Are a Tough Combination

When you have hearing loss, understanding speech does not come naturally. It takes effort. The clues we get from lip movements and facial expressions are almost as important as the sounds that are amplified by our hearing devices. We must look as well as listen in order to hear. Masks, while necessary and important for public health, make this process more challenging.

In my post, Masks Are the Latest Obstacle for People With Hearing Loss I share more information about the difficulties we face while communicating with masks and some helpful tips for combatting these issues, but in this post, I want to explore the ways we can successfully communicate these challenges to others so we can get the assistance that we need. My recent visit to the post office is a perfect case study.

Mask Wearing Cross Talk Made My Errand a Challenge

I was picking up a package at the post office. It was almost closing time so there were several of us in line trying to fit an errand in at the end of the day. We stood mostly in silence, six feet apart, staring into space as we waited for our turn to move to the next appropriately spaced yellow X on the floor. We all wore masks. Finally, it was my turn.

The woman behind the counter was very pleasant and had a clear and loud voice. I was doing fairly well conversing with her despite her mask until another woman walked into the waiting area and began shouting something to her friend a few places ahead of her in line. The attendant moved away from me to look for my package but continued to speak to me as the ruckus behind me grew.

I turned to the women behind me and asked, “Can you please be quieter, I am having trouble hearing.” I thought that I had said this in a pleasant voice and with a smile, but of course she could not see my face since I was wearing a mask. I could feel more than hear the antipathy surging at me from behind. I turned again to explain, “I am a little bit deaf so it is hard for me to hear with the extra noise.” I rarely describe myself as “deaf” but in cases where I think it will make it easier to get assistance, I use the term.

“Well, you don’t need to be so aggressive about it,” was her reply along with some other choice words. The rest played out quickly. The post office attendant told her that she had seen the whole thing. I had been pleasant and that she should be quiet. This went around and around for what felt like several minutes. My heart was pounding. It was stressful and certainly not how I planned to spend these few moments picking up a package.

Eventually everyone calmed down, I got my package and left, but this experience raises an important question. How can we best communicate the challenges we face as people with hearing loss in this new era of masks so that we get the assistance we need rather than the ire of people who just don’t get it?

How to Teach Others About Hearing Loss and Masks

In normal times, it is difficult to explain hearing loss to the uninitiated. And rightly so; hearing loss is not easy to understand if you have not experienced it yourself. It will be harder still during these challenging days when tensions are high and people are afraid for their safety. We need to find ways to educate others about the difficulties we face communicating with people wearing masks so that we can get their buy-in and assistance. I offer my suggestions below. Please add yours in the comments.

Raise awareness about the issue.

There have been many articles and TV spots highlighting the difficulty people with hearing loss have communicating with people wearing mask. This is wonderful, except that most of these spots have focused exclusively on clear masks as the solution. I love the clear mask idea, but there are many challenges with it in the near term, especially since the only FDA approved version is backordered for months. Homemade options do exist and many are wonderful, but they are not likely to become the norm for some time. We need to raise awareness of the issue of hearing loss more generally so the people we meet at the store or in line at the bank don’t assume that everyone can hear just fine.

Have your script ready to go.

It is hard to think of the exact right thing to say in the moment, especially given the stress of not being able to hear. Plan in advance a short way to explain the issue so that when you are faced with trouble you are prepared. Something like, “Excuse me. I am a little bit deaf and am having trouble hearing because of our masks.” Pause and smile. Even if they can’t see your smile, perhaps they will hear it in your voice. “Would you mind speaking a bit louder (or into my phone microphone or quieter in the case of other speakers) so I can understand better?” Perhaps if I had led with the reason for the request rather than the request itself, I would have had less of an issue at the post office.

Make your hearing loss more visible.

With hindsight, I wonder if I should have tried to make my hearing loss more visible. I could have worn a mask proclaiming my hearing loss or been more proactive about visibly using my speech-to-text app to help me hear. Making our difficulties easier to notice could help us turn these potentially awkward moments into opportunities to teach others about hearing loss and the tricks and tips we use to communicate more effectively. Perhaps the misunderstanding at the post office could have created a dialogue around the issue of hearing loss, rather than an altercation.

Readers, how do you let others know about the tough combination of hearing loss and masks?

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71 thoughts on “Hearing Loss & Masks Are a Tough Combination”

  1. Roger Talbott – I grew up on a farm. I retired to the biggest city in North America. I never met someone of a different race or faith until I was almost 18. Today I live in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world. I was born in the middle of the 20th Century. I am getting to see the beginning of the 21st. Some things never change, however.I have always been sustained by the belief that there is something beyond what I can see that is good and lasts forever. Life needs to have meaning and purpose. Relationships need to be based on love and respect. The best work feels like play. Our bodies and minds need to be challenged. To meet those challenges we need to eat good food and read good thoughts. And I know from experience that we can turn our backs on those truths and really screw up our lives.
    Roger Talbott says:

    So helpful! As always. Thank you!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I am glad you found it hopeful. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hi Shari, Excellent advice as ever. Even before the masks everywhere situation I feel the need to let people I have not spoken with before that I am a hearing aid wearer but that hearing aids do not make my hearing perfect. I warn that I may have to ask for repetition and ask the speaker to face me and I try to ensure they are not in shadow. There is a lot to remember and it can be quite exhausting if we speak with many people in a day. However, I fully agree with you that we MUST self advocate. If we do make our needs plain they are unlikely to be met.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Very true. Thank you for sharing what works for you.

  3. You are right on point, Shari. What a good suggestion. Perhaps a question in a gentle way, “Please help me out! I am deaf and am trying to understand what the clerk is saying to me. I can only hear you words with my hearing devices. Please speak softer, thank you” Then smile!!
    I will try that out. Thank you!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good idea. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Helpful. Thanks. I’ve only been totally deaf in one ear for 18 months. I also have facial synkineses, both the result of a brain tumor. For me, the other side of mask wearing is that it prevents my lips from moving in order to self advocate. And, since it’s a vestibular brain tumor, I also have a somewhat hard time with reading on the phone if there is motion of any kind. There are just no easy ways for me to advocate for myself. Last week, my daughter and I got separated so not even she could help.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I am glad you found the post helpful. These are certainly challenging times for all of us for a variety of reasons. Stay strong and know you are not alone in your struggles. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I use Otter for iOS and Live Transcribe for Android. Other people please fee free to weigh in with your favorites.

      1. I also have started using live transcribe. It works great as long as there isn’t any surrounding noise or commotion going on around you and the person is speaking directly into the phone.
        It is however better than nothing ag all. I also carry a pen and paper with me.

      2. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
        Shari Eberts says:

        Here’s some information about how to get started. Good luck! https://blog.otter.ai/help-center/

  5. I wear an LED scrolling message pin that says. “I am hard of hearing. Please look at me when you speak to me so that I can understand you. Please speak slowly and clearly. Please do not yell at me as that says distorts the sound. Thank you so much for understanding.”

    I have gotten the most wonderful responses to wearing this button. People continue to look at me, because the message just keep scrolling in bright letters On a dark, contrasted background.

    They can’t help but look at me they never look away. I’ve had so much success, wearing this pin.
    It has really changed my life and has resulted in people not being angry with me we’re frustrated. They show empathy and understanding and consideration.

    I bought this pin on Amazon. The configuration Hass to be done on a PC, rather than on an Apple Computer. So, because I don’t have a PC, a friend had to do the configuration for me, but it was very easy and only took a few seconds.
    You can write whatever you want on the pin.
    Truly the best idea I’ve ever done to help myself be understood by others.

    Unfortunately, most hearing people do not understand the difference between hard of hearing and deaf. If you tell them you’re deaf they scream at you. If you tell them your hard of hearing, they continue to mumble , turn away or just sort of treat you as if you were regular person.

    When I wear the button it’s a Signifying message that says, please look at me and please speak slowly. The people looking at the sign cannot misconstrue in anyway. It works very well.

    I have also found that a noisy situations, or in situations where people in medical places are wearing masks I can use wonderful communication apps, Like, Cardzilla, or BuzzCards.

    A doctor invented an application called CARDMEDIC, which enables nonverbal hard of hearing people to communicate with medical personnel, who are wearing masks. It is a wonderful application.
    I hope all of this helps some of you.

    RK

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing these wonderful suggestions.

      1. Use Live transcribe for Android phones or any number is ios speech to test apps . Ask the person speak to talk into your phone or tablet. Instant text will appear on the screen!
        Speech to text Apps

        For Apple devices

        Active Voice

        AVA

        Dragon

        IHearU2

        Otter notes…not speech to text but records what person says

        Say&go audio notes

        Voice Itt

        Voice to text pro

        Chatable

        ListenAll

        Android device.. Live Transcribe

        Hearing helper

        Appmyear. $9.99

        Microsoft translator

        Early

        Buzz cards

  6. Thanks for your article Shari, it really resonated with me.

    I have profound hearing loss and totally depend on lipreading. I cannot even understand my husband standing next to me wearing a mask. When I’m in a place of business by myself, I now wear, even though I don’t like it, a neon vest that has an ear logo and says “Hearing Impaired” on the front and back. On the front of this vest, I have pinned a LED pin like Ronnie mentioned. I have the version that I can program with my iPhone. My message says “I cannot lipread with your mask on.”

    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RY77KDK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Then I ALSO use a speech-to-text app, Otter.ai.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It is very frustrating. Thank you for sharing what works for you.

  7. Katherine Bouton – New York – Katherine Bouton is the author of "Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss." (2018) available at Amazon.com or B&N.com in paperback or ebook. It updates and amplifies the now-out-of-print "Living Better with Hearing Loss." Her first book, "Shouting Won't Help," tells the story of her hearing loss and her bumpy and sometimes hilarious journey to acceptance. She is a former editor at The New York Times, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America. She is President of the New York City Chapter of HLAA. Her blog can be found at katherinebouton.com. She has had progressive bilateral hearing loss since she was 30.
    Katherine Bouton says:

    Great post Shari. I love the idea of a mask that proclaims your deafness.
    The mask problems seem to arise when you least expect them, and so they’re hard to plan for.
    I haven’t been food hopping much but the other day I went to big supermarket. At checkout, I was in line behind someone and as the rolling surface you put the food on got empty, I started to put my own food on. The checkout clerk, not only wearing a mask but behind a plexiglass partition, started yelling at me. I gathered I was not supposed to put my food there. When I handed him my reusable bags — plastic is banned in my area — he handed them back with some explanation that I didn’t understand.
    It had been fun to actually shop in a store again but the checkout experience left me drained.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      The supermarket is never a fun outing for me — especially now! LOL! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    2. If only checkers could wear clear plastic masks, we could see what they say. See above comments re: self-advocating by telling Clerks, etc., that you are HOH and you need then to speak slowly and clearly. I wear an LED scrolling sign., bought on Amazon. You can make your own buttons.
      If you don’t tell people what you need, you can’t expect them to know. Hearing loss is invisible!

  8. Thank you for your post – I am going to my first medical appointment this afternoon since the pandemic began (and as a cancer patient need to “get it right” when med personnel speak to me) and have been deliberating how to navigate. I have an HLAA “Please face me – I am HOH” pin which I plan to wear I also am planning on bringing a small notebook in case I need to communicate in writing (not the most high tech or sterile solution, but just in case). I also plan to use Otter but love the reader suggestions of other apps to try and especially, the pin. Thanks everyone!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good luck! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Sharon…other speech to text apps, include Google transcribe and there are several iOs apps as well. They are terrific for communication purposes.Speech to text Apps

    For Apple devices

    Active Voice

    AVA

    Dragon

    IHearU2

    Otter notes…not speech to text but records what person says

    Say&go audio notes

    Voice Itt

    Voice to text pro

    Chatable

    ListenAll

    Android device.. Live Transcribe

    Hearing helper

    Appmyear. $9.99

    Microsoft translator

    Early

    Buzz cards

    I also have other buttons that are not moving LED ones, that simply say..”Please face me when you speak to me; please speak slowly; I am hard of hearing. thank you.” I wear the buttons on my lapel.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for sharing this information.

  10. Most places in our small coastal town require masks…all store personnel wear them. I’ve had good responses by saying, as I first encounter the clerk at checkout, “I read lips so can’t see what you’re saying. Please get my attention if you NEED to tell me something. Otherwise, I understand that you’re being pleasant and welcoming.”

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Great script. Thanks for sharing it.

  11. I am a big tall man. I walked into a bank wearing a mask and slipped the clerk a hand written note. Maybe not the best thing to do. She read the note which said something like: “I don’t hear good. Wearing masks makes communicating suck. I would like this and this done to my account, please.” When it was all done, I slipped her another note which simply said “Thank you”

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good strategy. Thanks for sharing what works for you.

  12. I’m having an awful time. I’ve tried using Ava, which usually is good, but the masks & 6ft distance / plexiglass really reduces its functionality. And, ppl don’t like to be touching stuff, like if I were to hand them my phone to talk so Ava / Otter could type & then hand it back to me, some ppl wouldn’t be willing to do that. I’ve tried to have someone w a mask on talk into my Roger’s pen mic, but all that did was make the distorted (from the mask) speech louder in my aids. So that isn’t a workable option for me either. (I’m not sure what I’m going to do at work when they require me to be put in the community seeing/working w my elderly clients. That has my anxiety up, as they could require that at any time now. Sometimes I struggled before the mask wearing, but now? I don’t see how I’ll be able to do my job w out making my upset & my clients frustrated/annoyed w me.)

    For the most part, I don’t go anywhere w out a friend or family member w me now cuz of the masks. And I use self-checkout whenever possible, tho I had trouble there one time cuz apparently a customer behind me must have told me that the open register station was broken. I didn’t realize what he’d said to me until I got to the station. When I got back in line I felt dumb & couldn’t help but wonder what the guy thought of me.

    Great article. I like the idea of the button/pin about not being able to hear well cuz of the masks.

    A final note- I had no idea how much I rely on lip reading until these masks took away my ability to do that. I guess you really don’t miss something until it goes away.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to know that we are not alone in these struggles.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad it was helpful. Thank you for your comment.

  13. The whole thing of clear masks excited me when I first heard of it, but the problem is that – while your family and friends might eventually be able to buy them, but I highly doubt that the people who are working in the post office and others who are in service roles will spend the extra money and go to the trouble of buying them.

    Also – when I smile, I try to smile really big – so big that it gets to my eyes 🙂

    Although I am not THAT hearing impaired, I do have 2 hearing aids. The mask not only gets in the way of me seeing others’ lips, but it also makes my eyeglasses steam up AND it makes additional noise on the mics behind my ears, when it rubs on the glasses and the elastic of the mask. On top of that, I live in Israel, and while I am fluent in Hebrew, it is also harder for me to understand when I can’t lip read. I am a teacher and being in the classroom is becoming more of a nightmare than ever before, due to these challenges.

    Thanks so much for blogging about this. It really makes me feel less alone.

    1. I also live in Israel. Clear masks are sold here and in USA. A company in Alaska …rapidresponse PPE.com , in Juneau, is now making clear masks that cover the entire head. If you want to get rid of the fogginess you can just use Dawn detergent or shaving cream.
      In terms of your eyeglasses interfering with the ear pieces that strap onto the ears, all you have to do is take those elastic pieces and tie them together in the back of your head you can use a clip or any other kind of doodad that holds them together. That will get them away from your ears. There are all kinds of workarounds in terms of being able to wear the clear masks.
      You can Get clear masks that have ties that actually tied together behind the head and they never touch the backs of the ears.

    2. You can also avoid the problem of the elastic behind the ears by placing buttons on headbands and then you can attach the elastic pieces to the buttons, so that those elastic pieces never touch your ears

    3. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      This is a challenging time. Thank you for your comment. It helps to know we are not alone in these struggles.

  14. I can definitely relate! Thanks! I’m currently between hearing aids, but I always used to kind of hide the hearing aids by wearing my hair down. I wonder if it would now be more helpful for those with long hair to pull it back to make the hearing aids more visible. If people can see the hearing aids maybe they’d be more thoughtful about how they communicate.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I agree! Especially now! Thanks for weighing in on the subject.

  15. Wow! I just found your blog a couple weeks ago. Have lost hearing in both ears, I do wear hearing aids, however with the masks these days I’m barely able to hear very much. You guys have provided me with so many different ways to tackle being in public while trying to hear someone wearing a mask.
    Thank you so much! I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad you found our community! Welcome!

  16. Thank you for this. I experience this at Target on Lincoln street. The employee was rude and mean to me stating that I should be able to hear her. She was upset that I did not hear her to come up next as I saw she was cleaning her station so I waited. I explain to her that I have hearing loss and I could not hear her she stated next time you should bring someone with you. I told her that she was rude and need to be more understanding with people who have hearing loss. I agree with your suggestions.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      How frustrating! Hearing Loss is so widely misunderstood. Thank you for standing up for yourself and all of us.

  17. with masks I don’t hear anything sound but can not decipher sound to words…..lost….most will lower mask to get idea across. I need better hearing aid or better hearing….

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It is tough. Have you tried a speech to text app like Google’s Live Transcribe or Otter? These take speech and turn it into written words on your smartphone that you can read. This can help quite a bit with communication. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    2. There are several iOS apps for Apple phones and tablets, as well.. Speech to text Apps

      For Apple devices

      Active Voice

      AVA

      Dragon

      IHearU2

      Otter notes…not speech to text but records what person says

      Say&go audio notes

      Voice Itt

      Voice to text pro

      Chatable

      ListenAll

      Android device.. Live Transcribe

      Hearing helper

      Appmyear. $9.99

      Microsoft translator

      Cardzilla

      Early

      Buzz cards

      White board and markers…also helpful.

  18. I just want to ask a question about “noise canceling headphones.” All the shopping descriptions talk about music. I’m trying to figure out what they actually do. I want to mute the noise, but not listen to constant music. Do they do that? How do I pick out a good set? Thank you for bearing with my off topic.

    1. Noise canceling headphones do exactly as their name indicates. They cancel out or significantly reduce background noise. People who have hyperacusis (noise sensitivity…often goes along with hearing loss)…use them. Another term for hyperacusis is “recruitment.
      I have done much research and find that Bose 700 noise canceling headphones are best. Cost: $299.95…on sale nowI can listen to music, via Bluetooth connection to my smartphone, or listen to nothing at all.
      Bose 700 …expensive, but worth every penny. There is another Bose headphone that came before…quiet comfort model 35. $349.00

      Rk

    2. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Here is an article I wrote which may help explain how they work. I find them incredibly helpful in many settings, not just for music. Thanks for your question. https://www.hearingtracker.com/news/the-joys-of-noise-cancelling-headphones-with-hearing-loss

  19. If you buy Bose products at a Bose store, they usually let you try it out for 30 days. FYI. The noise canceling headphones have helped me tremendously.

  20. A colleague of mine from where I used to live made me 5 see- through masks. (I wish I could post a pic of them here). They’re great. The “issue” that remains is that they are not worn everywhere. I can ask my friends/family to wear them, but they’re willing to take their masks down/off when around me, so I can read their lips anyway. So, while I’m grateful for the see-through masks, I don’t know where I can put them into use. I work one on one w predominantly elderly clients, but these 5 masks are not nearly enough for what I’d need to help me in my job (& I don’t feel ok w reusing them w diff clients, even if I sanitized them. If someone gave me a mask that I thought was prob used before – cuz I’d have to ask for it back- I wouldn’t like that personally.) As we’ve all noted, the wearing of masks makes it so hard to function as a HOH/hearing impaired person. (So how do we get see-through masks mass-produced? Lol).

    1. If masks are a problem, those transcription apps, like LIVE TRANSCRIBE (Android phones and tablets only), or iOs apps….there are so many from which to choose..Speech to text Apps…a great option for improving understanding on the part of the listener.

      For Apple devices

      Active Voice

      AVA

      Dragon

      IHearU2

      Otter notes…not speech to text but records what person says

      Say&go audio notes

      Voice Itt

      Voice to text pro

      Chatable

      ListenAll

      Android device.. Live Transcribe

      Hearing helper

      Appmyear. $9.99

      Microsoft translator

      Early

      Buzz cards

      Cardzilla

    2. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is an important question. We also need to make sure that any clear masks that are mass produced are safe and effective to use. In the mean time, we must use alternative strategies like speech-to-text apps and asking clearly for the assistance we need. Thank you for adding to the dialogue on this topic.

  21. Safety is very important. That’s why I agree with Shari about the speech to text apps.

    The Alaska company, in Juneau, that produces the all around the head, clear mask, is trying to get FDA approval.

    A French company announced that they are going to release a completely clear mask, that shows the entire mouth.

    I see that this is an ever-evolving process.

    Every month, innovation is happening. I’ve been monitoring Facebook, HOH groups and other news sources, for these innovations.

    The only clear mask (disposable…made of paper and plastic) is the COMMUNICATOR. But it is sold out.

    I don’t think that it would protect the wearer against micro particles of virus, which is necessary in terms of protecting oneself.

    Other clear masks protect the other person, against secretions of the mask wearer.

    Non disposable clear masks are washable, but not FDA approved.

    The mask bring made in Alaska, is the only one that I’ve found, which protects the person wearing it. It covers the entire face and is closed in the bottom. Very comfortable to wear.

    There is a mask that covers mouth and nose, with soft, silicon material..has breathing holes and has safe fabric covering the air holes, to filter out microscopic , viral particles. It was created by Dimona University, in ISRAEL. It is reportedly very comfortable to wear.

  22. can’t say I agree with letting someone know I’m a little bit deaf (minimizing the problem) but go all-out and tell others I’m SEVERELY DEAF and rely on lip reading to understand the spoken word. Never apologize for being deaf either never!

    Lorna

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for sharing what works for you.

  23. Speech to text apps are not working for me with my clients wearing masks & my having to be six feet away. The mic on my phone just isn’t picking things up accurately, if at all… so, great idea & I’ve used them (before masks) w great success.

  24. Yes. The masked person must speak directly into the microphone of the app , in order for the speech to be captured.
    You must pass the phone back and forth.. or, you can hook up a Bluetooth, remote microphone, which sticks up the speech sounds. Then you won’t have to pass the phone back-and-forth. The remote Mic works quite well.

  25. Yes, but that compromises the 6’ distancing. Not trying to shoot down ideas/suggestions- please keep them coming.

    The complication w this is my employer/job w relation to this COVID. I work w high-risk clients, many w multiple disabilities & health issues. So I’m doing most of my training (blind/vision rehabilitation) w clients over the telephone, but some training needs me to be in their presence for their own safety while doing new skills after losing vision – think cooking skills-chopping, cutting foods, using stove top/oven, frying foods… among other skills areas.

    I am wondering if using my Rogers pen Bluetoothed to my iPhone And the pan being close to the speaker will enable the speech to text apps to work better/accurately with us still being able to stay 6’ from each other. Hmm. I’m going to try that on Monday w a coworker w her mask on. Hopefully this will be a good solution (tho I’ll still miss being able to lip read!).

  26. Oh! I just saw that you also suggested using a Bluetooth mic… sorry I missed that. Great idea & I was thinking about that too. I’ll try it out on Monday & see how it does. Thanks!

  27. Fully get this. Even with hearing aids I have a hard time with masks. This is not only from the muffled sound, but because many of us rely on reading lips. In NV there is a “medical exemption” clause in the mask mandate. It doesn’t specify, but do you think it’s ok to ask someone to lower their mask to help with better communication?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I prefer to use technology like a speech to text app instead. Lowering masks could put people at risk for the virus. Thanks for your comment.

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