We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Yasmin Battat, an audiologist at the Oracle Hearing Center based out of Lawrenceville, New Jersey about her practice, life during Covid-19, and some new masks for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
Check out of our full length video here!
Hi Yasmin! How’s it going? Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
"Hi, I’m doing well! I’m an audiologist practicing out of Lawrenceville, NJ. I've been helping people hear better for the last 18 years. It’s what I’m passionate about and it’s what I love to do!”
What is your practice called? What would you say a typical week for you is?
“It’s called Oracle Hearing Center. I usually spend my days troubleshooting hearing technologies with patients. I’m fitting them with hearing devices and going over different strategies as to how to improve their listening environments and lifestyle decisions as related to hearing better. Hearing better always translates to communicating better, stronger relationships, and a healthier quality of life. Relationships are what keep us going!”
Yeah, the relationship with your patients really goes a long way since they build their trust with you! What would you say is the one defining moment that really drew you into this profession?
“When I had started out undergrad, I had been doing Speech Pathology and Audiology. One of my internships was in an Audiology clinic. I had watched my supervisor fit a child with hearing aids for the first time. She had a partial hearing loss and I saw her eyes light up! It was such a rewarding moment. The mom teared up and we all basically teared up. And I thought to myself, I need more of that!
I continue to see that actually! I work with adults and what keeps me going every week is that I see their eyes light up just like how I saw that little girl’s eyes. I mean it’s exciting! I started working at a school for the Deaf and it was a really important experience for me because I got to appreciate ASL and Deaf culture. Not having hearing didn’t mean that they lacked quality of life or the richness of communication. I definitely hold space for that.”
What do you think are some of the main problems that people face when they visit you?
“One of the most common complaints I often hear is that people have trouble hearing when there’s background noise or soft speech. They’re kind of socially engaging less because they just don’t feel as confident responding, understanding, or doing a give and take with friends and family. It’s a real big red flag for me because I know you are running into depression and isolation. That comes with a whole different health issue. We definitely have to do something about that and talk about solutions.“
So obviously, we’re living in unprecedented times. What do you think are some unique and different struggles that you are noticing in your patients during this COVID-19 pandemic and with the new protocols that are put into place?
“Having masks on and really losing those visual cues was huge. What started happening was that people were coming into the office and it was so hard for them to understand what I was saying even with the hearing devices. To hear well, you need both oral and visual cues, facial expressions, lip reading. It’s just huge!
I had a patient come in and say ‘I was unsure somebody was talking to me because I couldn’t read their lips. Every time I would go into a grocery store or go out in public, I get all tense and nervous because I had to work so much harder to figure out whether or not I had to respond to somebody.’ It’s so stressful in terms of just simply having communication at a checkout counter. You have distance, a plexi glass, and a mask!”
I know you mentioned clear face masks, could you tell me more about that?
"After I put out a Facebook post, I had a group come back to me called Global Grade Alterations. They help refugees with sewing or tailoring skills. They earn money through projects, like masks. We worked really closely on designing one. We wanted a face mask that does not hang on the ears. A lot of patients were calling and saying that they lost their hearing devices while taking off their masks. What we decided to do was design them and have them tie behind the head. It’s such a clever design because you have this clear portion and then you can tie it behind your head. They’re super adjustable.”
Well this was great Yasmin! I think what you do for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities really pays dividends for their well-being.
“Thank you! A lot of our relationships are based on effective communication. If we think about effective communication, we can trace it back to hearing better. Taking steps to hear better through different strategies and not just through hearing devices. So if we really think about this in our own personal relationships and our work relationships, we could work on that. I think our quality of life, self esteem, our confidence, and our engagement keeps us overall healthier.”