Hearing impaired: ‘Loneliness threatens through mouth masks’ | NOW

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The government’s advice to wear face masks in public indoor spaces because of the corona virus is bad news for two million deaf and hard-of-hearing Dutch people. They can no longer read their lips and see fewer facial expressions in their conversation partners.

Of course, deaf and hard of hearing people understand the usefulness and necessity of mouth masks, emphasizes director Wil Verschoor of the Hoormij foundation.

“But the government seems to ignore the fact that a very large part of the Dutch become very disconcerted at once,” she says. “You can literally no longer hear what is being said, and therefore you cannot participate and participate less.”

Deaf and hard of hearing people can often read lips well. This makes up for the part they miss due to their hearing impairment. “You can finish words in your head by seeing what the lips say, especially in combination with the facial expression,” explains Verschoor.

1.5 meters away is also an obstacle for this group

The 1.5 meters distance already created a considerable extra bump for these two million Dutch people. “But mouth masks are – from the perspective of the hearing impaired fellow countryman – a horror.” Hoormij warns, among other things, against rapidly increasing loneliness among this group.

The director of the umbrella organization calls on Dutch people to have more understanding for the hearing impaired in the near future. “Speaking louder does not help. But speaking slower and more clearly does, even with a mouth mask.”

‘Use transparent masks or pay attention to icon’

In addition, Hoormij advocates the use of transparent masks; the organisation’s website contains links to various producers. “They are a few euros more expensive, but they make a world of difference.”

Icons can also be downloaded from the website that the hearing-impaired person can stick to his or her mouth mask. In this way, a conversation partner knows immediately that the other is having problems with communication. In the coming days, Hoormij will also obtain information from sister organizations in countries where mouth masks have been mandatory for some time.





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