By Nsunjo Erica
A number of countries across the globe have reopened schools and face masks are compulsory however, these masks meant to curb the spread of the COVID-19 are to hinder communication especially for the hearing impaired.
Since the deaf and hard of hearing often rely on lip-reading to communicate, teachers and students are both going to find a very hard time communicating properly with face masks on, this may increase anxiety, stress, and confusion.
Also for students without a disability, the ability to understand speech from behind an opaque mask is a challenge, it requires both the teacher and the student to overstrain so they can both fully understand one another.
According to experts, we should expect communication hardships acute where clear communication is most vital in the medical setting. For those who can’t hear, the fear of being lost in translation with their teachers.
Young students who are just learning to speak and read, they imitate letters by the sound the mouth makes, being able to see the motions of the mouth is a learning tool, not just a vector of emotion, with a mask on, learning is to get hard.
Experts add that although there are tutorials online for makeshift masks with clear cutouts, transparent and exposing part of the mouth, it will still be very hard for students, especially young ones to read the lips from afar.
Other students that aren’t deaf will still find it difficult to hear every word that the teacher says when she/he is teaching from a distance with a mask on, even before the pandemic, students world to beg for pardon, the face masks are to increase the “pardon”.
Even if studying for children with disabilities like the deaf who rely on lip reading is put on hold, until a solution is found, the learning of these students will still be affected by the time wasted while others are learning.
None of the students with disabilities can learn remotely, these students all learn through lip reading, facial expression, and imitation, and all this is possible if they can clearly see and follow the lips of their teacher, with face masks on, this is to be hard.
Even if governments decide to make transparent masks free for teachers, these masks will not be supplied to every teacher who has students with disabilities, since these masks are expected to even be expensive.
Now, advocates for the hearing-loss community hope to make people more aware of these unique difficulties, advising everyone to exercise extra consideration and patience for the deaf as they try to navigate a face-masked world during the pandemic.