COVID-19 mask culture leaves challenges for hearing impaired

News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Mask mandates are being implemented both locally and nationally to stop the spread of COVID-19, but wearing a mask may pose a challenge to the hearing impaired.

Lloyd Cramer knows the struggle all too well. He has suffered from hearing loss for nearly 25 years after driving trucks for a living. He is reliant on his hearing adds.

“The masks make it hard to hear and if I don’t have my hearing aids in I can’t hear a thing,” said Cramer.

With many people wearing masks he finds himself struggling now that he can’t read lips.

Abbey Hendrick can relate to Cramer on the issue. Despite their difference in age, Hendrick is also feeling the impacts of masks at school. Because of the mandate, she feels online learning will be better suited for her learning style.

“Normally I read lips because because kids make fun of me when I wear my hearing aids, and if they’re wearing masks, I cant read their lips,” said Hendrick.

While masks with clear plastics exist, they have there problems too.

“They’re gonna fog up. Your breath puts out this fog and you’re going to have a lot of moisture droplets within that clear plastic opening,” Jodi Dillon, BC-HIS and owner of Audibel Hearing.

She does have some other solutions that may be of help if you encounter someone who is hard of hearing in the community.

“Talk plainly. Don’t talk too fast. Anybody with hearing loss has an increased difficulty in understanding when we talk fast. You don’t have to yell, but you want to be conscious of how fast you’re talking, said Dillon.

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