Deaf and hard of hearing community facing challenges with masks and pandemic

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jul 13, 2020

Masks are bringing challenges for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Many who rely on reading lips say it brings a communication barrier.

One Lafayette woman, is hoping to educate businesses on this. It's why she's sharing some insight and advice.

While masks are becoming part of our everyday life, it's forcing some in the deaf community to struggle between staying safe and being independent

While sign language is the main source of communication for Sally Morgan and her daughter, writing and lip reading are other ways she communicates. They are tools she uses when dealing with businesses.

However, Morgan says those tools didn't work during a recent encounter at a fast food restaurant's drive thru

"We gave the woman the paper," Morgan said. "She read it and she said , 'no, no no,' She asked me to come in and I said I can't come in because of COVID and I have 2 younger kids no one can watch them."

Morgan said she asked the employee to pull their mask down so she could read their lips. However, Morgan said the person declined.

She's now asking business owners for patience and understanding.

"They need to understand that deaf people should still be allowed to order food," Morgan said. "The communication is really blocked. It's confusing. It's a struggle and it's rough,"

Morgan said clearer masks could help. However, she says the main way to solve the communication barrier is to educate and train employees.

She says that will help businesses better serve the deaf and hard of hearing community.

According to the Governor's Office, you can be exempt from the mandate if you're trying to communicate with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

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