Communicating with Deaf People Through Face Coverings

Deaf people are struggling to communicate as face coverings continue to cause a barrier between them and the people around them.

The months of misery are set to continue, with research showing that three in four people don’t know how to communicate with Deaf people.

The National Deaf Children’s Society ran an online poll of over 2,000 adults between 24 and 25 September 2020 to find out more about the barriers Deaf people were facing.

The results showed that just 23 per cent of adults were able to communicate with a Deaf person when wearing a face covering. A further 89 per cent staid they struggled to understand someone in a face covering anyway. But 84 per cent said they would be happy to change the way they communicated if they knew how.

Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society Susan Daniels OBE called the results ‘concerning’ for the UK’s 12 million deaf adults and 50,000 deaf children. She called on the Government, businesses and the public to play their part by utilising their tips to aid communication.

She said: “Face masks and coverings have made lip reading impossible and if people don’t know how else to talk to us, even everyday events like going to work or school, visiting shops and taking public transport can be quite intimidating.

“However, what the public lack in knowledge they are making up for in enthusiasm and we must capitalise on this.

“My message to deaf people of all ages is to let someone know when you’re struggling to understand them because there’s a clear and widespread willingness to help you.”

The charity has pulled together five tips

• Keep it clear. If you choose to wear a mask, make one with a clear panel if you can, so your mouth is visible.
• Write it down. If speech isn’t working, write it down or use a text message.
• Find a quiet place. This will make it easier to hear, especially if technology is used to support hearing.
• Be patient. Be flexible, creative and most of all patient in how you communicate with deaf people.
• Use an app. There are mobile apps that can translate speech into text – why not try one?

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