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The United Kingdom has seen a wide range of changes put in place to halt the spread of Coronavirus. One such change is the compulsory use of face masks or coverings for shoppers, every individual entering a shop or supermarket must wear one, or face fines up to £100.

There are however, certain exceptions to the face mask ruling for individuals with certain health conditions, additional needs and those living with hearing loss.

This new legislation may cause a great deal of concern for those who rely heavily on seeing a person’s face in order to lip read, see facial expressions and to hear clearer sound. It is important to understand though that anyone accompanying someone who falls into this category will have exemption from wearing a face covering. It is also acceptable to remove a face covering when talking to a person with hearing loss.


Hearing Loss & Face Masks – A hidden issue

It is rarely easy to identify an individual with hearing loss, this makes it both difficult for staff members to ascertain if a person is allowed to remove their face mask or use the shop without one. Clear masks, also known as ‘window masks’ go some way towards solving the problem, but their availability is scarce and their use very limited.

Technology represents a much more readily available and practical solution to avoiding potentially upsetting situations and the necessity for those with hearing loss to openly identify themselves to strangers.


Hearing Loop and Vocal Enhancement Systems

Also known as induction loops, hearing loops can be installed in places such as customer service desks, tills and other locations where protective screening and face coverings are in use.

These systems enable customers who are hearing aid users to hear clearly and communicate effectively. When using hearing loops, customers simply switch their hearing aids to the ‘T’ position to have the voice of the person who they are talking with transmitted directly into their hearing aid via a microphone, with little in the way of background noise or interference. If face coverings are being worn, their impact on communication is vastly reduced.

With clear signage in place, masks can stay in situ with clear communication and no need for the individual to discuss or explain their hearing impairment.

Vocal enhancement systems are another ideal solution to the communication problems that can be caused by the muffled, hidden speech caused by face masks. The prevalence of both screens and facial masks has grown massively, yet not all of them meet the needs of people with hearing loss.

Vocal enhancement systems combined with hearing loops present the perfect solution, allowing retailers and services to offer an environment that is as safe as possible, but also one that is inclusive, preserving dignity and delivering the very best customer experience for everyone.


A need for greater awareness

In the rush to install protective screening and to make their spaces as safe as possible, many retailers are still to address the issue of hearing loops and vocal enhancement systems. Many have screening in place but no loops. Many have loops and systems that are poorly maintained and in need of repair. More still are staffed by employees who simply haven’t been trained in their use.  If such aids are needed but not in place, not working or operated by those without training, it may already be too late.

For help and impartial advice on hearing loops and vocal enhancement systems, how cost effective they can be and how simple they are to install at a time that suits you. Get in touch today