WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)— While masks have been inconvenient and uncomfortable for many of us, they have added another level of the communication hurdle for some to overcome.
Katrina Wiggins of Talking Hands Interpreter service said those in the deaf community are facing extra challenges because of the masks which have become a new normal.
“I’ve had a lot of feedback from the deaf community about wearing masks and since it’s covered they have no idea if someone is speaking or not speaking,” Wiggins said.
Since masks limit facial expressions and lip-reading, many people in the deaf and hard of hearing community who rely on that to engage are at a greater disadvantage.
Wiggins said special masks are available to help solve that problem, but they can be hard to get.
“Just with this clear window where they can see through, they are able to, for the ones who can read lips, they can read lips and for the others who can see that your lips are moving so they know to react and that you wanna communicate with them it really does help,” Wiggins said.
But if you don’t have that option,
“If a person, if they can’t read lips then they do use most of the pointing and the facial expressions and gestures,” Wiggins said.
WFISD Special Education Director Alefia Paris-Toulant said some students require sign language and mouthing so they use captioning to communicate during virtual school at home and they are thinking ahead to also obtain transparent masks.
“Some of our teachers have gotten very creative and they have done videos where they are providing visual and signing support for our students,” Paris-Toulant said.
Paris-Toulant and Wiggins agreed the community should work together to support everyone during this time.
If you or others you know are making masks and know the guidelines for clear masks, Wiggins encourages you to make those as well.