Deaf and Hard of Hearing with masks and barriers.

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In my family, being deaf and hard of hearing is more common than not.  Now, those with hearing impairment are experiencing new challenges brought on by the Coronavirus.

My entire life I have been taught that when speaking to others, I need to face them.  That would ensure they could see my lips and be able to articulate what I was saying.  I had to speak loudly so the other person would not need to guess the words I was speaking.

Many of my deaf or hard of hearing family members began to use other ways to receive conversation.  For example, they would read the other person’s lips.  In recent years I have also developed this skill as I have found it hard to hear others and rather than asking them to speak louder, I compensate.  It has become easier to decipher what they are saying by reading lips.

Two young women communicating in protective face masks outside

A new challenge for the deaf and hard of hearing people.

Because of the onset of the Coronavirus, it is becoming more common for individuals to wear masks.  Not only for professions where they are required to but in the public as well.  Individuals working in helping professions are now being required to wear masks a large majority of the time.

In my experience, auditory or hearing is the sense most affected by this new practice.

Knowing several people who have had to adjust to this new barrier, I can say it has become much harder to understand what everyone else is saying.  Although masks are being used to protect us, it is now more difficult than ever for people with hearing loss to engage in conversation or understand what is being said.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Although speaking louder and articulating seems like something we should all do, it is not a consideration that many have had for the hearing-impaired individuals in our community.  With that in mind, I created this downloadable, printable sign. Click here.

Virtual sign for individuals that have difficulty hearing.

My inspiration for the idea came from my aunt. She has been struggling to hear and understand others, even more so lately, and she asked for my help in solving her dilemma. She feels like a broken record, always asking others to speak louder.  I wanted to do something to help not only my aunt but anyone in the deaf and hard of hearing community who might benefit from this.

In these uncertain times, if we can help each other, we should. Just remember, be kind, patient and most of all, be human.

Since we first published this blog post, face masks with a clear section have been created.  They might help!  But note that glare on the shield area is still a barrier.  So please use the sign.

And practice patience and kindness in communicating.

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