Masks cause communication gap in the deaf community

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – People who’re deaf or hard of hearing experienced trouble adjusting to masks and here in Huntsville that community is trying to discover a way to bridge that communication gap.  

Elizabeth Wharry came to WHNT with a plea for the average man or woman, just to take note.  

“My main concern is that I read lips, and with a mask, I can`t see what you`re saying,” Wharry said.  

COVID-19 has changed our lifestyles drastically, although we’re taking the necessary precautions, for the hard of hearing or death, this causes a frustrating barrier.    

“All I’m asking the American public is, please either project so that I will hear you or pull your mask down so that I can read what you`re saying. “ 

Elizabeth joked saying that she was an introvert and didn’t mind the social distance, but she said you are able to still be six feet or maybe more away so she can read your lips.  

She asks that people remain calm when you come in contact with someone who’s deaf or hard of hearing.  

“Whether you wear your mask or perhaps not, that`s your organization, I respect that, but understand for me personally it creates a communication barrier. “ 

Her story is just certainly one of dozens here in the deaf community and she hopes that her speaking out she can be an unofficial advocate for many who are too timid to state something.   

“That’s why I’m here to create awareness to the public, we`re perhaps not ignoring you, we literally cannot hear you. “ 

She says those who find themselves deaf or can’t hear well aren’t being rude, just that masks make voices muffled. People tend to speak more in to the mask than projecting their voice, so it’s even harder to understand.  

To make outings easier she’s asking retailers to take into account background noises like music. Those cause auditory fatigue and makes a visit to the store not pleasant.   

“When I go to a store, I don`t wear my hearing aid. Because of the auditory fatigue that presents a danger to me if there`s a danger in the store.” 

 Elizabeth knows that not everybody knows American Sign Language, but to be aware and patient. There’s other ways to communicate, like with a pen and pad.  

But when you’re without that, speak up or show your lips, at a safe distance of course.