Communicating Clearly While Wearing a Face Covering

September 21, 2020

8 Tips for Improving Communication

Wearing a face covering is an important part of keeping you and others healthy right now. But they can also make talking to those around you more difficult. Face coverings can muffle sound. They can also hide important clues about the speaker’s message and emotions. This can make it hard to understand speech, especially for those with hearing loss.

Millions of people in the U.S have hearing loss, including half of those older than 75. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make an extra effort to communicate. Speak more clearly and louder than you normally would, without shouting. Reduce background noise when possible. Be aware that physical distance can also make hearing more difficult.

Make sure the person you’re speaking with understands you. Ask and adapt if needed. You can also offer to use another method—a smartphone, paper and pen, or whiteboard—to get your message across. When it’s essential that you understand spoken details, like at a doctor’s appointment, consider bringing a friend or family member to help.

Face coverings can make communication challenging for everyone. But people with hearing problems often rely on lip-reading to understand what’s being said. Consider using a clear face covering to make your mouth visible, instead of a cloth covering. With a little extra effort and problem solving, we can all communicate clearly while staying safe.

NIDCD Mask Infographic - 8 Tips for Improving Communication When Wearing a Face Covering

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  NIH – National Institutes of Health