People with hearing loss face additional challenges as they navigate COVID pandemic

Face masks become barrier for deaf, hard-of-hearing communities

We all know dealing with the pandemic has been a hassle, but can you imagine what this time must be like for people with disabilities? Especially the ones who usually depend on the mask not being on your face.

DETROIT – Dealing with the pandemic has been a hassle, but for people who rely on lip-reading, it’s even more of a challenge.

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Steven Beyer feels alone, being deaf in a world going through the coronavirus pandemic. Beyer relies heavily on lip-reading, something he’s unable to do if everyone has a mask on.

“It’s really important that we can actually see the facial expression. With the mask, you know, it covers half of your face so the communication is not always clear,” Beyer said.

Interpreter John Harvey said it’s unfortunate because that means Beyer and so many others don’t feel comfortable going out.

“It’s hard to go out to restaurants and especially when we do go out, we can’t hear. With the mask, we can’t really talk to them, and so when they’re trying to communicate with us we’re telling them that we’re deaf and but it becomes very frustrating,” Beyer said.

Beyer’s frustrations are echoed by so many others in the deaf community. He works as an administrative assistant for the deaf service, the DAD Foundation - Where this problem is constantly discussed. One thing that seems to make a difference however is a face shield, but even that can have its problems.

“Sometimes they have the face shields on, but they also have the mask underneath too, so that poses a problem,” Beyer said.

Either way, he’s hoping the vaccine can help him communicate clearly once again.

“I haven’t had it (the vaccine )yet, but I’m hoping I’m hoping that it helps with the pandemic because it’s very important that we all get back to normal,” Beyer said.

Beyer also wishes there were more resources for deaf people and that city leaders will consider the deaf community with any updated restrictions that may come about in the future.

About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.