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Challenges Faced by Individuals with Hearing Impairment during COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in India - A Pilot Study.

COVID - 19 (Corona Virus Infectious Disease) situations reported in 2019, declared by World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic is still a prevailing global crisis. Common regulations were implemented such as lockdown, wearing face masks as mandatory, face shields, gloves and maintaining physical and social distance in public places to reduce the spread of the virus. These pandemic induced challenges affected social communication, technical and behavioral aspects in lifestyle of people with hearing impairment. Along with medical, paramedical services, the crisis had challenged hearing, speech language pathology and therapy services too. The study aimed to explore the challenges that adults with hearing impairment had experienced during the pandemic and to suggest some practical solutions that can be implemented by audiologists. It is a questionnaire-based study with purposive sampling method employed in data collection. The questionnaire was administered on adult hearing aid users (mean age: 18 years) recruited for participation from different parts/ clinical setups across India. The outcome of the questionnaire did support the assumption that availing audiological services was difficult or impossible for most of the hearing aid users. Accessing batteries was reported to be the most frequent issue. Adequate level of hearing though hearing aid was important to them and clinical services could not be availed for long period of time due to travel related issues and closure of audiological services. Also, social isolation impacted on their quality of life and effective communication. As a possible solution most of the users chose tele services as a better solution.

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