This will be a back to school year like no other! We will be smiling behind our masks and are excited to see everyone again.  Wearing masks helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community but it can sometimes make communication more difficult, especially for people who have trouble speaking or hearing.

Communication challenges:

• Masks make voices muffled and harder to hear.
• Masks cover facial expression and prevent speech reading. Without visual cues, people with hearing loss or communication difficulties may have even more trouble understanding what they are hearing.
• People with communication difficulties may not be able to make themselves understood through a mask.

Communication strategies when wearing a mask:

• Move to a quiet place, or reduce competing noises in the environment.
• For those who wear hearing aids, ensure they are working well.
• Face your communication partner and make sure nothing is blocking your view.
• Get the attention of your communication partner before you start talking.
• Ask what you can do to make communication easier for both of you.
• Speak a little more slowly and slightly louder than usual, but do not shout or exaggerate your speech.
• Use your eyes, hands and body movements to add more information to your speech.
• Use a voice amplifier.
• Ask if your communication partner understood you. If not, repeat, rephrase or write it down.
• Use speech-to-text apps to transcribe speech in real time.

Please see General Public Masks Info Sheet by Speech-Language and Audiology Canada for further information.

Have a safe and healthy school year!