Hearing loss and the Pandemic

Learning how to communicate with hearing loss is challenging. With the pandemic triggering feelings of stress and anxiety, many people with hearing loss are feeling more isolated than ever before.

Managing coronavirus alongside hearing loss has been a huge challenge for many, especially for those who are new to it. From essential face masks to online learning and social distancing, the impact has been detrimental for many.

The impact on students

‘Deaf people have faced serious challenges during the coronavirus pandemic,’ Beccy Forrow, Campaign Lead at the National Deaf Children’s Society, told us.
‘With friends and family shut away from each other, phone calls and group video calls have become even more popular, but both are difficult for deaf people to access.
It’s left them more at risk of isolation and loneliness as a result.’

And, after most schools in the UK transitioned to online learning, it’s been reported that 74% of hearing-impaired students have struggled to keep up with their peers. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many are also lacking access to resources. Battling background noise, difficulties with live captioning, and many voices talking at the same time, online learning isn’t the solution for everyone.

‘Class discussions can be difficult online,’ Monica Costa from London Mums Magazine told us, ‘And with some students turning off their cameras and not showing their faces, hearing-impaired individuals are struggling to cope.’

The pandemic doesn’t only affect students, especially since the use of face masks was made mandatory from July 24th. While these are necessary to limit the potential spread of the virus.  The hearing-impaired have many challenges as they attempt to communicate in a newly masked world. Andrew Thomas, Chairman of IHLMA, told us: ‘In these challenging times, we are all facing an uncertain future of what lies ahead. For people with hearing loss, the COVID-19 epidemic has added even more demands on how they go about their daily lives.’

Communication challenges

Communication has become increasingly difficult over the last few months without the ability to lipread or see one’s facial expressions.  While multiple individuals have created face masks with clear windows, not every single person has access to these.  In particular, the general public.  People believe these tailored masks are for the hearing community, but those who rely on lip-reading need everyone to wear them.

Add to this the laws of social distancing, and it’s easy to see why hard-of-hearing people face communication barriers caused by the pandemic.

‘Face coverings pose new challenges for deaf people because lip-reading and interpreting visual cues are impossible,’ Beccy says, ‘The Government needs to make transparent face masks widely available, but in the meantime, deaf awareness is key. Using gestures, writing things down, and considering a deaf person’s needs will make a world of difference.’

Alongside these separate challenges, the community has also heard of shop closures.  This results in poorer support and less help for those who need it, with cancelled routine hearing care appointments and hearing tests.  Difficulties seeing audiologists in a private consultation room and delayed hearing aid repairs.  This has meant that many individuals have felt they left out in the cold, isolated and secluded.

While the shops are gradually reopening, there will no doubt be a backlog of patients who need to be seen.

‘As we head back to some form of normality, there is a greater need for organisations to become more socially aware of their responsibilities to ensure their environments are accessible to people with hearing loss,’ explains Andrew. ‘This can be achieved through the use of various forms of existing technology, with solutions that will assist both individuals and service providers.’

About Conversor

Conversor has over 15 years of experience in supplying personal and portable amplifiers to customers and advising on the set-up.  Conversor gets the hearing impaired closer to what they want to hear. With a range of innovative products to suit each story.  Those who are hard of hearing in the UK can be confident that they will be on the ball for the next client meeting.  They will be able to converse with peers with ease by filtering out the background noise.  This allows them to focus on a particular speaker.

For more information, please get in touch with Conversor:

01483 608 404
07775 663 433