Everyone is the world is aware of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact it is having on our community, as well as in our daily interactions. This new virus is changing the way society functions, our familiar routines, services, and social interaction. Everyone is learning how to adjust to the frequent changes. We are trying to keep ourselves and our families safe. 

Living with hearing loss during the COVID-19 global pandemic offers new and more frequent barriers. However, life has likely taught you, that there are usually solutions to overcome these challenges. It may require a little creativity, thinking outside the box and looking in the 'tool kit' you already have. Hearing loss is seen by some to be a major challenge impacting their lives in a negative way. Living with hearing loss can be positive. It encourages resiliency, improves problem solving and coping skills. It also teaches you and others around you how to be better communicators. Many people learn new tools and strategies to help them overcome challenges through the use of technology, speech (lip) reading, good communication and self-advocacy. 

Social Isolation and Distancing

Social isolation and distancing is a struggle for the general public. It can be difficult to maintain a 6 foot distance from people when you are working or trying to complete tasks such as grocery shopping. When you also have hearing loss this poses communication break down and barriers.

Depending on an individual's hearing loss and hearing aids, 6 feet may be too great of a distance to hear what a person is saying. The installation of plexi-glass barriers in groceries stores, health care clinics and hospitals could muffle and block the volume of voices making it more difficult for people with hearing loss. The glass can also have a glare or not be clean which decreases the ability to speech (lip) read. This makes it more difficult for people with hearing loss to listen and understand what is being said.

Another challenge of social isolation and distancing is having to rely on alternative forms of communication and reducing face to face contact. Although there is technology to help make telephones hearing accessible, it does not work for everyone. Having to use the telephone during the pandemic as one of the only ways to access services or communicate with loved ones may cause greater isolation for those with hearing loss. One potential solution to this is using video chat services such as Facebook Messenger, Skype or Facetime. If you have a hearing loss or know someone who does it is important to reach out to others in a safe way, possibly by using the internet to make sure they are doing okay and to stay connected.

Accessing Health Care

When accessing health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are increased communication barriers. Health care professionals are at a high risk of contracting the virus and are required to wear face masks. Most face masks keep the mouth covered which can obstruct the sound of a person's voice. Furthermore, this completely eliminates the opportunity to lip read.

In such situations, it is best for individuals with hearing loss to self-advocate and inform the health care professional of their hearing loss. It is also important to tell them that you rely on lip reading. The health care professional may have clear face masks so you can lip read, or they may be able to write down the important information they are trying to convey to you.

Another option you could use to aid you when availing of any health care service is to bring along any assistive technology you may have. This could include hearing aids, personal amplifiers like a pocket talker or an FM system. There are also free captioning apps you can add to your smart phone that will caption the conversation for you. A list of these apps can be found below in the resources section of this email.

Support for You

The current situation we are all living in  can have negative impacts on our mental and physical health. Remember that CHHA-NL is always here to support you, whether it is by trouble shooting hearing challenges, or just to talk to someone who understands your hearing loss. You can reach member of our programs and services team by emailing Andrea at aaugot@chha-nl.ca, texting (709) 725-3224 or calling (709) 753-3224 (we are checking our messages and will return your call within 24 hours).  If you are feeling down, anxious or lonely, CHANNAL offers a service called "The Warm Line" where someone is available to talk with you and support your mental health needs. To reach them call 1-855-753-2560 or local at (709) 753-2560. If you prefer to communicate through text, the crisis text line is also available at 686868. Also don't forget to practice social distancing, hand-washing and of course self-care. If we work together as a community we can all get through these uncertain times and reduce COVID-19's impact.

Additional Resources

Click the buttons below to access various articles pertaining to COVID-19 and hearing loss.


Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Newfoundland and Labrador
1081 Topsail Road,  | Mount Pearl,   A1N 5G1
709-753-3224 | info@chha-nl.ca

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