For many deaf people, communicating in a hearing world has always been a struggle and masks have made communication a lot harder.
When deaf people are communicating with those who can’t sign, some rely on lip reading. Masking up can leave members of the deaf community without a method of communication because they can’t see what someone is saying.
When hearing people won’t compromise, communication becomes impossible.
“So if that happens, I’ll just walk away and people will think I’m rude but I don’t know what else to do,” member of the Deaf community Wade Hester said.
Deaf students can easily fall behind when they aren’t given the proper tools to keep up with their classmates.
The internet wouldn’t work and so how could we understand the interpreters and do our homework,” Deaf student Faybion Sanchez said.
The pandemic has also made already difficult visits to the hospital even harder. Hester’s wife broke her arm and the hospital would not provide an interpreter to the couple. Because masks were required, Hester and his wife weren’t able to communicate.
“The doctor came in and told us to pull up our masks. I had to say ‘no, go away. This is the only way we can communicate,'” Hester said.
It has also exacerbated the isolation that’s already felt by some members of the community.
“My family never signs, so I miss what is going on and I often wonder ‘what do you mean?’ I just have to stay patient and keep moving forward and try to understand what they are saying,” Deaf student Jordan Paredes said.
The deaf community wants hearing people to understand that compassion can go along way. By wearing clear face masks, pulling your mask down or writing back and forth, you can communicate with a deaf person.