Mask on or mask off?

We live in a masked world today, taking every measure to protect ourselves amidst the growing pandemic. Today, unfortunately, wearing the mask has posed a challenge specifically for the deaf community.

Group of people wearing mask.
Mask on or Mask off: A question of safety.

As the deaf community mainly relies on lipreading, face expression, and sign language. The mask has become an obstruction in understanding what the speakers say. Thereby, our not understanding contributes to the stress and excludes us even more.

In a normal communication without a mask, we can make adjustments or work out the problems while communicating. But other than the mask, it is a matter of safety. The question always pops up in my mind, "Do I let the other person remove the mask for few minutes so I can find it easier to lipread?" Or "Do I compromise the speaker's wellbeing just because it is convenient to lipread?" Even with the little residual hearing we have, we would find it difficult since your voice would come out as muffled and unclear. It covers your lips thus, making it difficult for us to lipread. Cover your facial expressions, making it difficult to get extra clues to supplement our communication.

As to make it easier for us to communicate with the mask on and without having to compromise your safety. There are few things you can do.

  1. Type it out on your phone, or write it on a piece of paper.

  2. Wear a mask with a clear panel for lipreading

  3. Be mindful of the environment.

  4. keep the conversation short and up to the point.

For deaf people or Hard of hearing, you must find which method works for you. Advocate for your needs while you are struggling. Ask for help when needed or in difficulties, it could mean the difference for you, feeling isolated or included.

The next time you come across a deaf Individual, please do these things with little prompting. We would appreciate the gesture and the effort to make communication easier. Today, everyone is going through hard times. It does not cost much to show kindness and make someone's day better.


#SriLanka #inclusion #Deaf #hardofhearing #mask