The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our day-to-day lives and completely transformed the way we communicate with our families and friends. Because we are socially distanced, we are required to connect in ways we never imagined – via Zoom, telehealth and phone visits, and through masks while six feet apart.
Here are some tips for better communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you are communicating with an individual with a hearing loss, or you experience hearing loss yourself, here are some simple things you can do to ease communication:
- Make sure you have your communication partner’s attention before beginning a conversation.
- Reduce interfering background noise as much as possible.
- When possible, make sure that both communication partners can use visual cues such as reading lips and facial expressions. When masks make this difficult, consider using a captioning application on a smartphone or tablet.
- Check for understanding throughout the conversation.
- If your communication partner doesn’t hear you, rephrase your statement – don’t repeat it.
- If you use hearing aids or a cochlear implant, ask your audiologist about ways to stream audio from video or phone calls directly to your devices.
- Ask your audiologist if you qualify for a free captioning phone.
Preserve your voice by following these tips for good vocal hygiene:
- Drink plenty of fluids free of excess caffeine or alcohol to keep your vocal cords hydrated.
- Take voice rest breaks if you have been talking for longer than one hour.
- Consider switching to texting or emailing, even briefly, if you find you are experiencing vocal fatigue from voice overuse.
- Use a microphone if you must speak at a loud volume.
- Avoid vocally abusive behaviors such as yelling, excessive coughing and throat clearing, or inhalation of smoke/irritants.
Hoarseness lasting for longer than two weeks is abnormal and warrants a visit to a laryngologist or voice therapist.
See information about hearing and speech services at Baylor College of Medicine and learn more about National Better Hearing and Speech Month.