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Richmond doctor makes clear masks to help hearing impaired

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Posted at 10:55 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 22:55:22-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of people in every corner of the globe. But those who are hearing impaired, the coronavirus pandemic has created an entirely new set of challenges.

While masks are important in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and required in many public settings, Richmond audiologist Dr. Lori Gardner of Hear Virginia said that they make communicating especially difficult for those who are deaf or hearing impaired.

“You may notice how muffled it is. You can hear me, but the clarity isn’t there. The things that keep us safe can also degrade how speech is heard,” Dr. Gardner explained. “Whether we have hearing loss or not, we rely on visual cues. So, if I’m smiling at you, then you know things are well."

To help mitigate the challenge, Gardner has been making a special form of mask outfitted with a clear panels so mouths to help patients who need the visual cues.

She hopes will help those who depend on them avoid additional stress.

Gardner also says that focusing on word enunciation and avoiding shouting can help with making sure messages are recieved even while masked.