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Karen Franklin has not ventured out much from her home in Yonkers, N.Y., recently—and it’s not just because of fears of COVID-19. The 65-year-old has had hearing loss for over 30 years, and even with a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other, she now finds it too difficult to navigate a world where everyone suddenly communicates from behind a mask, often at a great distance.
“I was at an outdoor baby shower a few weeks ago, with everyone wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart, and I felt completely clueless,” she says. “I could not hear people clearly, and I also couldn’t lip read, which often helps me if I miss a word or two. Up until now, I’ve never felt isolated because of my hearing loss. . . . But now it’s