One secondary impact of our Covid pandemic that affects me and so many others with hearing loss, but something that most people are quite unaware of, is the wearing of masks.
I am very dependent on lipreading and visual cues despite the amplification provided by my hearing aids. With masks covering the lower part of the face, lipreading is impossible. And what little I can hear through the masks is muffled. This has been a real source of pain and frustration, just at a time in my life when I am enjoying the fruits of improved hearing technology. This is particularly distressing in medical settings, when I really do need to understand what is being said, but also in stores, restaurants, pharmacies, theaters, airports and some social gatherings. Practically everywhere. Yes, there are communication technologies that can help – speech transcription programs on phones, or even just writing. But they are time-consuming and cumbersome. Most of the time I accept these small but repeated frustrations, but sometimes I feel grief at not being able to converse freely and participate in the social world more fully because I can’t lipread. Fortunately, for now at least, the Covid threat is lessening and fewer people are wearing masks. I can only hope, both for the sake of the health of our world, but also for those affected by hearing loss, that this will continue.
Learn more about how severe hearing loss can impact a life in my upcoming memoir “But You Look So Normal: Lost and Found in a Hearing World”. Publication date is May 2024. Click here to Join Waitlist.