Hidden Hearing is asking people to look out for the Please Speak Up badge that is available to those with hearing difficulties
Businesses and members of the public are being asked to consider the needs of hearing impaired people in a campaign launched by Irish hearing healthcare specialists, Hidden Hearing.
The campaign, #PleaseSpeakUp, will provide free lapel badges for people who are hard of hearing to wear, so that those they meet in public, and particularly in stores, will understand their difficulty
The use of face masks and screens in retail outlets and in public places, like GPs’ surgeries, makes life difficult, on account of the muffled sound effect, says Dolores Madden, audiologist and marketing director at Hidden Hearing.
“More vulnerable and elderly people are encouraged to wear face masks in public, as are those dealing with the public in their line of work. But unfortunately this makes it difficult to hear, and that can add to the feeling of isolation in the hearing impaired, especially when they fail to understand what is being said”, the hearing specialist explains.
It is hoped that, as people recognise the #PleaseSpeakUp badge, they will speak clearly, raise their voice a little and take the time to ensure that the individual understands.
Free lapel badges are available by contacting Hidden Hearing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to have badges posted free of charge.
They will also be offered to clients attending clinic appointments. Applicants do not need to be an existing Hidden Hearing customer though, and GPs can also request stock of badges for patients they feel would benefit. Information is available on www.hiddenhearing.ie.
Face masks effectively cover the mouth, and many people without hearing aids actually relied on lip-reading to compensate for hearing loss, without realising it, audiologists now believe.
“Since lockdown, the Hidden Hearing helpline has dealt with many people newly concerned about their hearing. When face masks affect the sound quality and you cannot see lip movements either, hearing loss is going to become much more apparent, and it may be time to consider a hearing device”, Ms Madden says.