For almost 48 million Americans who experience mild to severe hearing loss, communicating with others wearing facemasks presents new challenges.
The family of a 4-year-old girl from Port Washington, New York, who has hearing loss is raising awareness and funds to help children with hearing impairments. With the help from NYU Langone Health and Phonak, a global provider of hearing solutions, Nathan, a 6-year-old from Honduras, will get new hearing aids.
Ruby Ganci’s parents discovered their daughter’s hearing loss at the very beginning of the pandemic. “As everyone started putting masks on she would say things like, ‘Move your mask. I can’t hear what you’re saying,’” says Lindsay Ganci, Ruby’s mother. Ruby got hearing aids last May after visiting Catherine M. Flynn, AUD, an audiologist at NYU Langone Health practicing at the Cochlear Implant Center—Woodbury and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.
“In interactions in which hard of hearing people rely on speech reading and facial cues, masks make communication nearly impossible,” says Dr. Flynn. “Around the beginning of the pandemic, I noticed an uptick in patients coming in with concerns about their hearing. People with mild hearing loss, who weren’t previously using hearing aids, suddenly found that they couldn’t understand speech without them.”
Signs that your child may have a hearing impairment include not responding when called, and turning up the volume on the TV or other devices, Dr. Flynn tells CBS New York.
Watch and read more from CBS New York.