Hard of hearing having difficulty understanding those wearing masks

Hard of hearing having difficulty understanding those wearing masks

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Wearing a mask is now a necessity to stop the spread, but for those that rely on reading lips and seeing facial cues to help them communicate, masks prove to be a problem.

For Curtis Dyle, hearing loss isn’t new.

“Probably first starting having hearing loss about twenty years ago,” Dyle said. “I first ended up getting up hearing aids about twenty years ago, and my hearing has slowly gotten worse.”

But understanding those around him has become a lot more difficult recently with everyone wearing masks.

“The masks have caused a lot of problems because the masks do what normally people that have hearing losses, they have a problem with understanding more so than with volume, and the mask makes the understanding part of hearing more difficult,” Dyle said.

Audiologist, Dr. Heidi Sorrells explains everyone reads lips and facial cues to some extent, but there is one key difference.

“It creates a huge problem because whereas normal hearing we can kind of fill in the blanks, people who have hearing loss have a much more difficult time especially if they can’t see someone’s face,” Dr. Sorrells said.

There are workarounds. For example, there are face shields or cloth masks that have a clear panel that allow those hard of hearing to see lips.

Dyle just asks for some patience.

“To a large extent there’s nothing you can do about it and realize that volume doesn’t help them,” Dyle said. “[It] doesn’t do any good to speak a lot louder and think that will help them. Face them straightforward and speak a little more clearly if you can.”

The governor’s mask mandate does make an exception when you are communicating with someone who is hard of hearing.

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