COVID and hearing loss

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on all of us.

The UK and the rest of the world has adopted new measures to combat the spread of the virus, including:

  • Social distancing (keeping 1-2m apart from others)
  • Mandatory face coverings in public spaces (shops, supermarkets, and public transport)
  • Local and national lockdown restrictions.

While these are essential and sensible precautions to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, it has had unintended consequences for people who are deaf or living with hearing loss.

Face coverings and lipreading

Widespread use of face masks / coverings have created a huge barrier for individuals who rely on lipreading.

They reduce clarity of speech and being unable to see mouth or facial expressions makes it impossible for people who lipread or use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate effectively. This could pose a risk to their health and safety.

Face masks / coverings can also make people with hearing loss feel isolated and anxious, and too worried to leave their homes, in case they are not able to communicate with others if they need to.

Losing hearing aids

With the introduction of face masks/ coverings, hearing aid users have reported that they are losing their hearing aids more frequently.

RNID has produced an information video, which details ways to keep your hearing aids safe while face coverings are mandatory.

You can also reduce the risk of losing your hearing aid with a securing clip. The HEAR Ear is designed for Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids.

Hearing access

The social distancing measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives.

There is a greater reliance on video and telephone calls as many face-to-face services were paused. This can create anxiety for people who are unable to hear well on the telephone or are unsure how to access communication support such as subtitles, captions or BSL interpretation.

Ideas for Ears has produced a guide so businesses can improve their understanding of hearing access, and ways in which to create hearing-friendly environments.

Mum of two Amy Morton, started her Living with Hearing Loss campaign to raise awareness of face masks and coverings, and also encourage businesses to be lipreading-friendly for people with hearing loss.