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Charities for deaf people call for more see-through face masks

New article at the Guardian states –

Face coverings causing communication difficulties for the 12m people in UK who are deaf or have hearing loss

It then adds –

“See-through face masks should be made widely available, leading deaf charities have said, warning that the growing use of face coverings is causing communication difficulties among the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or have some form of hearing loss.

Face coverings must be worn in England on public transport, and by hospital visitors and outpatients, while all hospital staff must wear surgical masks. Face coverings have also been recommended more widely, including in Scotland, in cases where social distancing is difficult.

“The main issue is that people who are deaf and have hearing loss rely heavily on visual clues for effective communication – that includes body language, gestures, facial expression and lip-reading,” said Ayla Ozmen, head of research and policy at Action on Hearing Loss. “British sign language (BSL) users also rely heavily on seeing lip patterns as well as facial expressions to understand BSL.”

While those who are travelling on public transport in England with someone who relies on lip-reading are exempt from wearing face coverings, something Action on Hearing Loss welcomed, Ozmen said little had been done to publicise this, raising concerns that those legitimately not wearing masks may face abuse.

And there are other problems, Ozmen said, noting the rules around masks and face coverings in hospitals come into conflict with the accessible information standard, which puts an obligation on health and social care providers to meet people’s communications needs.”

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