Masks, while integral to the protection of the user and the slowing of the spread of viruses, can make it challenging to hear people. It muffles the speaker’s voice, covers their mouth and makes it impossible to lip read. For people who rely on lip reading to communicate, this usually spells the death of the conversation and the birth of frustration between the parties. 

Despite this obstacle, there are still many ways to communicate. A common method is using pen and paper, a dry erase board or even a notepad application on a phone or tablet.

Other high tech options include speech to text applications that will ‘listen’ to what is being said and convert it to text. This can be used for both parties in the conversation as these applications usually also convert text to speech. It would be best to practice using the applications at home so the process is familiar and easy when needed. For use, simply activate the application then hold the microphone as close to the person talking as possible while keeping appropriate social distance.

Hearing aids are still a contender in the fight against failed communication but these devices often have a short distance where they are most effective. Make sure to be cautious when removing a mask to avoid losing a hearing aid. Tying the mask around the back of the head versus looping behind the ear will help prevent any losses or damages to a hearing device.