How Face Masks Have Impacted Hearing Deficiencies

From E3 Diagnostics, by Adam Dawson

Face masks have become the new normal. While many don’t mind wearing masks, many others find it inconvenient. For people with hearing loss, however, masks can create a significant barrier to effective communication. 

Keep reading to learn how face masks make it more difficult for the deaf and hard of hearing to communicate and how you can help them more effectively communicate with them on. 

Why Face Masks and Hearing Deficiencies Don’t Mix

Many people with hearing loss use facial expressions and lip-reading to understand conversations. That’s why face masks create issues for the deaf and hard of hearing. The mask covers the speaker’s face, hiding cues a person with hearing loss may rely on when speaking with someone. A mask makes it more difficult for the listener to tell if someone is happy, angry, smiling, or frowning. 

Additionally, a cloth face mask reduces a speaker’s volume by about 5 decibels and makes it difficult to hear high-frequency sounds such as “s,” “f,” and “th.” The problems may be exacerbated if a thicker, heavier type of mask is worn. N-95 masks, for example, reduce volume by about 12 decibels

When combining lowered volume with social distancing and clear plastic shields found in many public places, it becomes even harder for individuals with hearing loss to participate in conversations.  

Finally, face masks that loop behind the ears make it difficult to wear hearing aids. The hearing devices can become dislodged, or the mask loops interfere with the microphone’s sound quality. 

Fortunately, there are solutions that people with hearing loss can use to their advantage. 

Face Masks for Hearing-Impaired Patients

Masks with clear plastic panels are available to help hard-of-hearing people read lips and see facial expressions. However, these masks also block high-frequency sounds. The plastic panels essentially reflect sounds back to the speaker instead of toward the conversation partner. Combining a clear face mask with an amplification system that utilizes a lapel microphone is a good solution to help someone with hearing loss. 

Surgical masks and loosely woven cotton masks are ideal for sound. If you wear these style masks, you will still need to take steps to help ensure a deaf or hard-of-hearing person can understand what you’re saying. These might include:  Rest of post:

Our CAOHC Classes Are COVID Friendly

Workplace INTEGRA, Inc has room in the CAOHC Classes we hold at our Greensboro, NC Training Facility. Our June 16-18, 2021 class will have the students attending spaced to adhere to COVID. If you are due for your Re-cert class or need the 20 hour Certification, sign up here:


Greensboro dates:

June 16-18, July 7-9, August 11-13, October 6-8, December 1-3

We also have room in our CAOHC classes located here: CAOHC Hearing Conservation Technician Certification Course – SE (

Contact us with any questions, see you in soon! or 888 974 0001

Study explains ‘cocktail party effect’ in hearing impairment

Source: Oregon Health & Science University

Summary: Plenty of people struggle to make sense of a multitude of converging voices in a crowded room. Commonly known as the ‘cocktail party effect,’ people with hearing loss find it’s especially difficult to understand speech in a noisy environment. New research suggests that, for some listeners, this may have less to do with actually discerning sounds. Instead, it may be a processing problem in which two ears blend different sounds together – a condition known as binaural pitch fusion.

Rest of Article:

David Pinchot Retires from Workplace Integra!

I would like to announce my retirement from Workplace Integra, effective March 31, 2021.  Although it has been 20 years, it seems like just yesterday when George Cook, Joan Evangelista and I founded Workplace Integra. We have always been guided by a principled approach of honesty, integrity and a feeling of being a part of something special.  We are more than a company that performs hearing testing – we are a company that believes in hearing conservation. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. By focusing on hearing conservation, we strived to emphasize improving our client’s employee’s quality of life by preserving their hearing well into their later years.

Over the past 20 years, I have had the pleasure of working with a fantastic group of employees.  I am proud of what we all accomplished together and the bonds we built with our clients and business partners.  I will always cherish my time with Workplace Integra and the many relationships and friendships formed over the years. 

While I am moving on to my hobbies and attempting to improve my golf game, I will continue to support Workplace Integra in a consulting role as they continue to offer quality software, mobile testing and audiological consulting services.


David Pinchot, Director of Information Services

COVID-19 and hearing loss: What we know

Contributed by Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing
Last updated 

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has now been linked to many long-term complications, including heart damage, lung damage and neurological disorders. One emerging area of research is whether hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can result from coronavirus infection—either as a symptom or as a complication days or weeks later.

We do know that many different types of viral and bacterial infections can cause sudden hearing loss. But older coronaviruses that triggered epidemics, such as SARS and MERS, did not appear to cause hearing problems. What about SARS-CoV-2, the current coronavirus that’s causing a global pandemic?

Rest of article: COVID-19 and hearing loss: What’s the connection? (

2021 CAOHC Class Schedule

Here is the 2021 CAOHC Class schedule from Workplace Integra:

Courses are approved and instructors are certified by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC). This 20-hour initial certification training is referenced in both OSHA and MSHA noise standards. It is designed to train personnel conducting hearing testing; implementing or supervising hearing conservation programs. Topics include: click for more….

CAOHC Technician Training Schedule

CAOHC Recertification Training Schedule