Focus Carolina

Focus Carolina: Patricia Johnson

With masks mandated in many areas during the pandemic, the audiologist offers practical advice for communicating effectively and remaining safe.

Patricia Johnson wears a clear mask
With the UNC Hearing and Communication Center serving as the training site for Carolina’s doctoral students, Patricia Johnson also provides daily clinical education via one-on-one student supervision, using her expertise in hearing technology. (Photo by Ben Johnson)

An audiologist, Patricia Johnson is dedicated to helping patients hear better. With masks mandated in many areas during the pandemic, she offers practical advice for communicating effectively and remaining safe.

While masks offer protection, they filter out certain sounds and block the mouth from view, exacerbating even a mild hearing loss.

“Masks block all lipreading,” Johnson said. “So for all of us, it’s as if we now functionally have a mild hearing loss.”

Her advice: Speak slowly, in short sentences and be patient.

Johnson sees the challenges firsthand in her role as a clinical assistant professor of audiology in the division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, under the department of Allied Health in the UNC School of Medicine.

Johnson teaches doctoral students in Carolina’s top-ranked audiology program. With the UNC Hearing and Communication Center serving as the training site for Carolina’s doctoral students, Johnson also provides daily clinical education via one-on-one student supervision, using her expertise in hearing technology.

Some of Johnson’s colleagues and students have some form of a hearing loss. To ensure that students have equal access to information shared in the class, students and instructors alike wear clear masks that allow for lipreading. The clinical labs also have real time translation, with a live transcription of the lecture which students read on a screen.

With a commitment to community service, Johnson can often be found providing hearing presentations and screenings around the Triangle, with a special focus on the aging population.

Learn more about overcoming hearing loss by listening to this week’s segments.

Every day, faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill engage in groundbreaking research, innovative teaching and public service that makes an impact in our community and the state, nation and the world.

Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear their stories and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can listen to WCHL at 97.9 FM or 1360 AM.

Read a transcript of this interview.

 

Read a transcript of this interview.