It is no secret that everyone is struggling these days given the current Covid-19 pandemic. What not many people are aware of, however, is a difficulty the Deaf Community face in a public setting which just got a lot more challenging…
With CDC guidelines requiring individuals to socially distance, and wear face coverings to slow the spread of the virus, face masks have become the root problem within the hearing loss community. They rely on hand gestures, lip reading, and facial expressions to communicate with one another. Six feet distance regulations make it difficult for people with deafness and hearing loss to speak with another. Standard face masks make lipreading impossible to use in a public setting.
The hearing community cannot live vicariously through the deaf community and their struggles, which is why shedding light on this topic is beneficial for both sides.
Here are 5 tips for the public to help ease communication:
It goes without saying, speaking loudly and clearly helps a person hear better. Enunciating helps distinguish certain words that aren’t understood when a person mumbles. Sometimes an individual who is deaf or HoH may ask you to repeat your sentence several times! Be patient with them, they really want to understand what you are trying to relay to them.
A simple gesture might do the trick if you don’t know any sign language yet. Whether you’re pointing out an item at a grocery store or giving directions to your favorite coffee shop, a gesture conveys the message to someone who cannot hear well. Body language also plays an important role in gesturing. It provides a sense of tone to the conversation.
Write it Out!
Typing out a message on your smartphone is a very easy and time efficient way to get the message across. If you see someone who has trouble hearing, type out on your smartphone and ask them if they need help with anything.
Wear a clear mask!
Standard face masks have made lip reading impossible to use in a social setting. Wearing a clear mask makes it much easier to communicate and it allows people who are deaf and hard of hearing to see another person’s face and, more specifically, their facial expressions. Check out the Oracle Hearing Center’s grace clear mask here.
It can be hard to realize in the moment, but people who are deaf and hard of hearing are not ignoring you. They simply can’t hear, so be patient with them. It can be difficult when someone simply can’t hear or understand you, but patience and understanding goes a long way in bridging the gap of miscommunication between hard of hearing and hearing worlds.
Few tips for Deaf and HoH!
- Don't be shy! Let people be aware of your deafness and hearing disability and ask for repetition of things when necessary.
- Let people know what you need or want, what would help you understand and communicate better; messaging, email, writing are all super forms of communication.
- Wear a mask that states you are deaf! It’ll bring awareness to people and will help you communicate better.
During these tough times, we have to support one another through patience and empathy, whether you are Hearing or Deaf, kindness is a universal language. Treat others the way you want to be treated.