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

The coronavirus and hearing loss has felt like a lot to manage for many living with the symptoms, 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.’

But students aren’t the only ones affected by the pandemic, especially since the use of face masks has now been made mandatory from July 24th . While these are necessary to limit the potential spread of the virus, there have been many challenges for the hearing-impaired 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

Without the ability to lipread or see one’s facial expressions, communication has become increasingly difficult over the last few months. And while multiple individuals have created face masks with clear windows, not every single person has access to these, in particular, the general public. Also, many people believe these tailored masks are made for the hearing community, which couldn’t be further from the truth – as 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 those who are hard of hearing are facing 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 faced hearing shop closures too, resulting in poorer support and less help for those who need it. With canceled routine hearing care appointments and hearing tests canceled, difficulties seeing audiologists in a private consultation room, and delayed hearing aid repairs, many individuals have felt left out in the cold, isolated and secluded.

And 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

With over 15 years’ 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 or converse with peers with ease by filtering out the background noise, allowing them to focus on a particular speaker.

For more information, please contact Conversor:
darryl@conversorproducts.com
01483 608 404
07775 663 433