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How to lip read when everyones face is hidden behind a mask? That is the challenge facing deaf people across the world as the Covid-19 pandemic makes face masks a part of daily life. The answer could be transparent face masks but such masks are in short supply, leading some to make their own.
Over 5 percent of the worlds population, or 466 million people, have disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, and many rely on lip-reading alongside sign language to communicate.
“In the current situation, in connection with the coronavirus, there are salespeople for example at the post office or at the pharmacy who have masks,” Céline Rettmann a hearing-impaired high school student from Brussels, Belgium, told Reuters.
“This is why it is necessary to extend the use of transparent masks to facilitate accessibility for deaf people.”
Deaf associations in several countries, including Belgium, are calling on governments to make these masks more readily available.
But for the time being, many are having to make do with homemade efforts, including at the Royal Woluwe Institute, a special-needs school in Brussels where teachers have been sewing masks that contain a transparent window to show the mouth.
“Our children need to communicate with the whole entity, all your face, the things you say, not (only) with the hands but (also) with the face,” Wendy Schellemans, a teacher at the school told Reuters.
“The emotions behind communication. So when we trRead More – Source