mindbodygreen: How To Communicate With The Deaf Community Behind A Mask
Abby Moore with mindbodygreen spoke with members of and advocates for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities about how the pandemic has created new communication barriers. The challenges created by the use of masks include the inability to lipread, and muffled, unclear voices. Additionally, the Deaf-Blind have had very little access to communication as many members of this community use pro-tactile communication which requires hand-to-hand and hand-to-body touch.
"'The Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing population is diverse in communication styles and levels of hearing losses,' says Teddy R. Dorsette III, director of communications for National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA). 'There is not a one-size-fits-all as far as communication needs and auditory needs. One thing as a whole about this population is that we are very visual.'"
Face coverings mask a signer's facial expressions, an essential grammatical structure of American Sign Language, and inhibits the ability for people to read the lips of a speaker wearing a cloth covering. These issues can be resolved to an extent with the use of clear masks, but these are not commonly available for wide distribution to the public.
Moore, in collaboration with National Black Deaf Advocates, and The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes presents a variety of methods for hearing people to communicate effectively while wearing a mask.
Read these methods here: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-communicate-with-deaf-community-while-wearing-mask
The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes: Communicating With a Face Mask: What Colleges Need to Know for Deaf Students (and Everyone)
The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) outlines requirements colleges should be aware of as schools across the country resume classes. Whether a class is online via our new favorite video-conferencing platform, Zoom, or in-person, the Americans with Disabilites Act (ADA) requires equitable access to education.
Disability professionals in higher education were polled on their highest concerns about face masks on college campuses. Among their responses: "More than one-third (37%) are concerned about determining appropriate accommodations when face masks or shields are a barrier. Nineteen percent are worried about campus requirements or policies, and 16% are concerned about addressing classroom acoustics and audio equipment needed for mask wearers."
The NDC cites guidance from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the use of face coverings on campus:
“'Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing — or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired — may be unable to wear cloth face coverings if they rely on lipreading to communicate. In this situation, consider using a clear face covering. If a clear face covering isn’t available, consider whether you can use written communication, use closed captioning, or decrease background noise to make communication possible while wearing a cloth face covering that blocks your lips.'
Regardless of your face covering or if your class is online or in person, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires equitable access to education."