It’s no secret that we are living in unprecedented times. The arrival of this global pandemic has forced us all to adjust and adapt our daily lives in many different ways. Staying home more often, keeping at a distance from others and of course: wearing a mask. While masks are hoped to limit virus transmission, they have been the cause of struggles for hearing aid wearers. But fear not, we’ve got your back – at a social distance!
The number one difficulty experienced with masks is speech understanding. Due to muffled speech signals, even people with good hearing can struggle to make out a conversation correctly. So someone wearing hearing aids is even more disadvantaged. Furthermore, as the speaker’s mouth is covered, most of the visual cues used to facilitate understanding are also restricted. Lip-reading in particular is no longer an option to assist in conversations, which may seem a bit daunting for the hearing impaired.
Most hearing aids apps will allow some on-the-spot adjustments to allow better speech understanding faced with a mask situation. Signia users are in luck, however! Addressing masks as one of the major modern-day problems, Signia has developed a full-on “mask mode” for their hearing aids. People fitted with Styletto X, Pure Charge-N-Go X, or Pure 312 X devices will now be able to engage mask mode on their phone app. You will find a mask icon on the app, which with a simple tap can be turned on or off at will.
So what does mask mode do to help? Well, in short, it programs your hearing aids to reduce background noise and capture the sound of speech signals. By doing this, words said by someone wearing a mask sound clearer and are significantly easier to understand. Once you no longer need the extra mask mode boost, simply deactivate to return to your usual programming. Alternatively, mask mode will automatically deactivate when resetting the hearing aids or changing the hearing program.
Phonak users aren’t left behind though. While there is no specific app-induced mask mode, the Phonak Roger accessory is here to help. This small microphone can be placed at a distance or even around someone’s neck directly. With added proximity, the sounds picked up are clearer and made easier to understand even through a mask. Furthermore, you can safely keep good social distancing and not be left out of the conversation with this microphone. You can even use “pointing mode” to keep the microphone in your hand and avoid cross-contamination.
The other issue many hearing aid wearers have faced while wearing a mask is losing or breaking their devices. After all, face masks are generally worn behind the ear, much like many hearing aids, and when taken off can easily fling a hearing aid, or damage the receiver. Some tips to help avoid this disaster scenario include:
If you have long hair, use a ponytail/bun to hook on the mask elastics instead of your ears
If you are arts and crafty, you can sew buttons on a headband to hook the elastics to. You could even make a “mask extender” out of ribbon or fabric with buttons sewn on either side to use as an anchor on the back of your head.
If crafting isn’t your forte, you can always tie string or ribbon to each elastic and tie a knot behind your head
As much as possible, try to remove your mask only in one or two locations (e.g. home, car). That way if you do accidentally fling off one of your aids, at least you know where to look for it.
We can only hope this pandemic situation will soon be a bad memory. Until such a time, remember that you can stay safe wearing a mask and being at a social distance without impeding on your sense of hearing. And of course, if you do damage or lose your hearing aid, Falls of Sound is here to help, so just give us a call.