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by Abigail Van Buren

A Masked-Up Society Presents Challenges to Deaf Citizens

DEAR ABBY: As we return to work, businesses and expanded health care are opening up after the pandemic shutdown. We all are pretty much required to wear masks anywhere we go these days.

I am a deaf person and rely on lip-reading for communication. Wearing a mask has shut out my contact with the hearing world as far as communication goes. I have been mistreated in more ways than one because masks do not allow me to lip read. When I'm not able to have a sign language interpreter with me, I bring a pen and pad everywhere I go to converse as best as I can.

I am a very patient person; however, people in the public sector are not being patient nor compassionate in helping us deaf individuals. Please understand, we are trying to communicate as best as we can. We simply ask the community to be patient and either lower your mask to respond, or write your response. Yelling through the mask is pointless. -- DEAF IN LAS VEGAS

DEAR DEAF: I can only imagine how frustrating and isolating this has been for you and other deaf people. Reusable transparent masks and masks with clear plastic inserts (windows) are available on the internet. (NPR has posted a YouTube video demonstration.) I would urge anyone who has contact with deaf individuals to go online and check this out. Some are marked, "Hearing Impaired." I have considered buying some, if only so friends and family can see me in my entirety and know without question when I'm being facetious.

Read more in: Covid 19 | Health & Safety | Etiquette & Ethics