I can’t understand you with a mask on!

I can’t understand you with a mask on!

In a study done by Alexander Goldin, PhD, Barbara E. Weinstein, PhD and Nimrod Shiman, the wearing of a mask reduces the volume of speech by 3db-12dB based on the type of mask. An N-95 mask causes the greatest reduction in understanding speech. The frequencies that are reduced are the high frequencies between 2,000-7,000Hz. These are the frequencies or pitches that are most commonly affected with hearing loss. This results in “muffled speech.”

It is well understood that we understand about 50% of words with auditory alone, while visual alone is about 20% understanding. When we combine the visual and the auditory we can achieve 90% word understanding. This is with hearing that is considered to be within the normal range.

What can we do to improve our ability to understand others while we wear masks? Let’s start with what doesn’t work. 

Saying “What?”

The speaker will just say it the same way and it will be just as muffled and unclear the second time. You could ask them again, but in a different way.

For instance, I recently went to a grocery store where I have purchased 'Fresh Paper' before and usually find it in the produce aisle. I asked a produce clerk where I could find it and he thought I was asking for “Fresh Capers,” or something similar. I repeated 'Fresh Paper' three times, he was visibly annoyed with me and sent me to the olive aisle. I decided to describe it to him, but he was still annoyed and said they didn’t have it.

We often talk about rephrasing when we are not understood, or can’t understand. Try to be as specific as possible or you could even request for something to be written out. 

If you are wearing a Widex Hearing Aid, watch my video to learn how to design your own customized “MASK” program.

Also Watch: WIDEX MOMENT app - Personal programs

Need more tech help? Call to schedule a Virtual Telehealth Appointment for more personalized help with your smartphone and hearing aids. 

Want to learn more about Machine Learning and Hearing aids and how to further customize your Widex hearing aids?

Sign up for our Zoom Workshop with Jodi Sasaki Miraglia, AuD, Director of Professional Education at Widex.  

Thursday, August 20th, 2021 10:30 am 


Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.

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