Many people, young and old alike rely on lip reading in their daily lives and masks make this impossible.
Face covers are needed in more places and health experts say they can lower your risk of contracting the novel coronavirus if you come in contact with someone who is infected.
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Kingdon and many other advocates understand how important masks are in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, but they want greater public awareness to help those who are deaf or have hearing loss.
“We are looking to advocate with the Minister of Health in Canada to talk about these issues and promote the practice of wearing clear masks as a standard approach where appropriate,” Kingdon said.
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A similar initiative is underway in the UK, where an estimated 12 million people are deaf or hard of hearing.
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On July 31, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that masks would be needed in more places, including museums and cinemas, from August 8.
The pandemic has revealed long-standing challenges for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
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In May, two deaf doctors shared their experiences in an issue of the British Medical Journal, highlighting the lack of clear face covers approved for medical use.
Kingdon lost his hearing as a young adult. In 2005, she had surgery to have a cochlear implant inserted in her right ear, but she still reads the lips.
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She described how a recently scheduled appointment to see her optometrist was filled with “terror” because she had to wear her mask and knew they would also have their faces covered to protect themselves from the virus.
“I was wearing my mask and when I walked through the door I saw they had clear face shields and instantly it was a different story. I just knew I would be able to make it work and not struggle to understand what they were saying, ”Kingdon said.
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Many people or businesses may not realize how much a mask can hinder a person’s ability to shop, travel, or access healthcare when they have hidden disabilities.
“There have been so many issues faced by those of us with hearing loss and it didn’t create any communication issues, but a lot of mental health issues. There is a lot of angst. There is a lot of frustration. There is a lot of fear, ”Kingdon said.
There are many applications for mobile phones that can help with communication or questions can be written, but you must be able to recognize that someone is having difficulty.
Advocates say people with hearing loss will often touch their ears or try to use their hands in some way to show that they don’t understand or have trouble communicating.
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