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Deaf and hard of hearing in Las Vegas using clear masks to better communicate

Facial masks have created a communication barrier
Posted at 7:40 AM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 00:47:10-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With many people wearing face masks to cover their nose and mouth, it's difficult for those in the deaf community to understand what they're saying.

Thousands of deaf and hard of hearing people in Las Vegas are using see-through masks as a way around this communication hurdle.

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"As deaf individuals, we already have a hard time communicating as it is, just in general," said Jovanna Natale, with the Deaf Center of Nevada. "Now to add that mask, and we can't look at the lips or lip read, or even understand."

The masks also prevent deaf and hard of hearing individuals from reading facial expressions, which can be challenging since facial expressions are similar to tone of voice in American Sign Language.

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Advocates at the Deaf Center of Nevada have been handing out masks with a clear plastic guard in order to better see the mouth and lips.

If you don't have a mask, and need to communicate with someone who might not be able to hear you, here are some ways you can do that:

  1. Try tapping them on the shoulder
  2. Gently wave in their direction
  3. Use a pen and paper to write a message
  4. Type something in your phone

The Deaf Center of Nevada is currently out of the special masks, and you can help out by donating here.