The requirement to wear masks is essential to helping stop the spread of coronavirus, but it poses a particular difficulty for those who rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate. The charity Action on Hearing Loss have provided the following guidance to help minimise this new challenge:
- Make sure you are facing the person you are talking to and speak clearly
- Avoid shouting, speaking too fast or unnecessarily slow.
- If someone doesn’t understand you, repeat what you said or phrase it differently, use plain language.
- If you are in a noisy place, move to a quieter area if possible.
- Use simple gestures such as pointing or waving to get someone’s attention.
- Write things down – use pen on paper, text on device screens, or whiteboards.
- If they ask you to, speak to a relative or friend.
- There are live speech-to-text apps available, though with varying levels of accuracy depending on background noise and speed of conversation.
- Use Video Relay Services, such as InterpreterNow, for communicating with people whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language.
- Look out for people using the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard who may need your support to communicate.
You can view full guidance and information from Action on Hearing Loss here.