Communicating in a Covid world

Exploring the impact of face coverings on communication (BSHAA Webinar 18th August 2020)

Michael Stone, Senior Research Fellow,

Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness (ManCAD)

To reduce the transmission of COVID-19, personal protective equipment (PPE) is required. PPE to protect the eyes, nose and mouth comprises face masks and transparent visors. These range from a simple covering made from domestic fabrics for use by the public, to FFP3/N99 rated air filters and wrap-around face visors in care settings.  All these PPE styles make spoken and signed communication harder.

The obligatory use of PPE in public settings means that everyone, not just the hearing impaired, will struggle to understand in real-world conditions and background sounds.  This will result in increased listening effort, stress, communication errors and potentially social withdrawal.

This talk explores the background to some of the issues identified so far, and possible ways being used to tackle these.

Michael Stone works in ManCAD, based in the University of Manchester, UK.  Although an engineer by training, he has spent over 30 years in research on auditory perception, particularly among the hearing-impaired.  Some of this work has been implemented in clinical testing, hearing aid fitting methods and commercial cochlear implants.  With Gaby Saunders and Harvey Dillon, Michael co-leads the NIHR-funded “Hearing Device Research Centre” in ManCAD which performs research to ensure technical devices and software integrate well with the patient.

ManCAD is the leading provider of audiology education and research in the UK.  It is heavily committed to translational research, the practice of developing laboratory discoveries to improve clinical practice.  Its group head, Kevin Munro is a former chair of the British Society of Audiology.



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