Coronavirus: How to make yourself understood while wearing a face covering

    Speech and language expert Dr Abi Roper explains the best ways to communicate through a face covering.

    Face the person you are speaking to 

    Being able to see someone straight on will help with communication.

    Be patient

    Face masks put a strain on communication, so people may need more time to understand what you're saying.

    Speak clearly and naturally

    Avoid the temptation to raise your voice, shout or over-annunciate. This actually distorts speech in a way we're not use to hearing it.

    Use body language

    From your shoulders to your eyebrows - smile with your eyes - use emotion and feeling to help get your message across.

    Point

    Particularly useful in shops.

    Enact

    If you're referring to an object, the most useful type of gesture to describe it is to pretend you're using it. So if it's a banana, peel it, if it's a phone, pick it up.

    Draw or write

    This can be useful if speech with a mask proves too difficult.

    Voice recognition

    Most phones have free apps that will transcribe speech in case the other person can't understand you.

    Dr Roper, who is a member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, said: "We will always find a way of getting our message across, but face coverings slow things down in a way we're not used to.

    "Wearing a mask will pose the biggest challenge for people who don't have any communication difficulties normally, because the world is pretty well set up for people to be able to communicate through speech alone."

    Speaking with people you aren't familiar with and unpredictable situations will be the hardest interactions with a face mask, she added.

    "My message is to learn from people with speech and language needs, because they are used to adapting and using other tools available to make themselves understood," she said.

    Content and picture: Sky News

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