Face masks pose challenges for deaf, hard of hearing community

Pooja Lodhia Image
Monday, June 29, 2020
How mask order impacts the hearing impaired
Wearing face masks is difficult for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, especially if they rely on lip reading. Watch what they have to say to businesses to accommodate them.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Nobody enjoys wearing a face mask, but for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, masks are more than just an annoyance.

Many people in that community rely on lip reading to communicate.

"It sounds like Donald Duck talk. I can't understand what you're saying," said Kim DeLong, who is legally deaf. "It's like, 'Huh?' 'What did you say?' I can hear you, but I can't understand you."

After a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, many counties surrounding Houston issued mandatory face mask orders for residents when inside a business.

DeLong can hear sounds with her hearing aid turned on but relies on lip reading to make out words. She said the communication problem has been so bad that she's even been forced to leave certain businesses.

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

"The mask still has to be on, which I'm all for, but they must accommodate for us. I'm asking for simple paper and pen," she said. "Imagine going to a busy bar or concert, and you're trying to understand what someone is saying to you, but it's so loud that you can't figure it out. That's me every day."


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