The following content was provided by TruHearing, Aspire Health Plan’s partner for affordable hearing healthcare services and hearing aids.
The holidays are a time to gather, celebrate and connect with the people we love, but it’s also a tough time for people who experience hearing loss—especially during COVID-19. Beyond typical holiday parties, the hard of hearing have to navigate socially distant group gatherings, unreliable video call quality and audio, and mask wearing, which inhibits lip reading. Here are a few simple ways we can be more empathetic of those with hearing loss:
1. Speak naturally
When we know the person we’re talking to has hearing loss, it’s our instinct to “speak up” so that they can hear us better. But shouting only makes it more difficult for the person to understand us. Instead, speak clearly and naturally. Minimize background noise, keep hands away from your face, and make eye contact while talking so they can read your body language. And above all, be patient. If you can see that they’re struggling to understand you, try expressing your thoughts in a different way. They want to understand you as much as you want to understand them.
2. Face masks
Many of us are covering our mouths with masks per the CDC recommendations to limit the spread of COVID-19. But face coverings make it harder for people with hearing loss who use lip reading to help them communicate with those around them. What can we do to help those with hearing loss—loved ones or strangers—feel included?
It’s important to understand that we all read lips, whether we’re hearing impaired or not. It’s part of reading others’ body language. And masks can muffle sound and make it hard for people even without hearing loss to hear each other.
The simplest solution is wearing a clear mask that allows others to see our lips while still providing the necessary coverage.
3. Video calls
During the last year, video technology has become a major form of communication in the workplace, between family and friends, and in healthcare. And during this holiday season, video calls may be the only way we can celebrate with loved ones. Here are a few key tips to make video accessible for those with hearing loss:
When beginning the call, check with the other person to make sure they can hear and see you clearly. Sit near enough so they can see your face and keep your hands away from your lips so they can read them as you’re talking. Make eye contact and speak towards the microphone so they can consistently hear you.
Because video calls are remote by default, masks aren’t needed. This makes lip reading much easier for the person with hearing loss.
Spending time with family is an important part of every holiday season and this year will feel very different because of COVID-19. Make sure you and your family are taking care of your hearing health so you can have the best interactions possible. If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, take TruHearing’s free online hearing screening here.
As an Aspire Health Plan member, you have access to TruHearing® a comprehensive hearing care solution that offers high-quality hearing aids at lower prices. If you have any questions, please contact Member Services at (855) 570-1600 (toll free), (831) 574-4938 (local). TTY users call 711.