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Perceptions of Adults With Hearing Loss About the Communication Difficulties Generated by the COVID-19 Preventive Measures: A Qualitative Study.

  • Chauvette, Loonan1, 2
  • Pinsonnault-Skvarenina, Alexis3, 4
  • Sharp, Andréanne1, 2
  • Gagné, Jean-Pierre3, 4, 5
  • Lacerda, Adriana Bender Moreira3, 5
  • Hotton, Mathieu2, 6
  • 1 CERVO Brain Research Center, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 2 Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 3 École d'orthophonie et d'audiologie, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 4 Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation du Montréal métropolitain, CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, Québec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 5 Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, Québec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 6 Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et intégration sociale, CIUSSS de la Capitale Nationale, Québec City, Québec, Canada. , (Canada)
Published Article
Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR
Publication Date
Dec 11, 2023
DOI: 10.1044/2023_JSLHR-23-00163
PMID: 37934877


The COVID-19 pandemic led to the implementation of preventive measures that exacerbated communication difficulties for individuals with hearing loss. This study aims to explore the perception of adults with hearing loss about the communication difficulties caused by the preventive measures and about their experiences with communication 1 year after the adoption of these preventive measures. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted via videoconference with six adults who have hearing loss from the province of Québec, Canada. Data were examined using qualitative content analysis. The study found that face masks and in-person work (i.e., in opposition to remote work) were important barriers to communication because of hindered lipreading and competing noise in many workplaces. In contrast, preventive measures that allowed visual information transmission (e.g., transparent face masks, fixed plastic partitions) were considered favorable for communication. Communication partners were perceived as playing an important role in communication success with preventive measures: Familiar communication partners improved communication, whereas those with poor attitude or strategies hindered communication. Participants found that videoconferences could provide satisfactory communication but were sometimes hindered by issues such as bad audiovisual quality or too many participants. This study identified reduced access to speech reading and lack of general awareness about hearing issues as key barriers to communication during the pandemic. The decreased communication capabilities were perceived to be most problematic at work and during health appointments, and tended to cause frustration, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and social isolation. Suggestions are outlined for current and future public health measures to better consider the experience of people with hearing loss.

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