Other than one trip to the grocery store, I haven’t been in public since March 13, so I haven’t noticed if people in my community have started wearing masks. But I’ve wondered how I’ll be able to respond to people’s voices when I can’t see their mouths.
In the past few years, I have noticed I have trouble following what a person is saying if I can’t see their mouth. If my wife talks to me from the next room while the dishwasher is going, or if two people are talking at the same time from different rooms, my brain has a harder time processing the sounds my ears are hearing. I can tell how many syllables they are saying and I can recognize who is speaking and the tone of their voice (usually annoyed), but if there is any background noise, no matter how hard I concentrate I can’t filter it out.
So far, I have no trouble hearing with headphones — when the sound is coming right into my ear I can filter out the background sounds. The last time I got my ears checked, they said the hearing loss was nowhere near the level that needed a hearing aid, but it’s on my list to get a new appointment.
This story about a college student and her mom creating masks with clear windows caught my eye. (I didn’t watch the video.)
“I just saw that people were making masks on Facebook for everyone to have instead of the throwaway masks, and I was like, what about the deaf and hard of hearing population?” explained 21-year-old Ashley Lawrence.
Lawrence is a senior studying education for the deaf and hard of hearing at Eastern Kentucky University. Due to the virus, she is living back at home and doing her student teaching from home.
“I felt like there was a huge population that was being looked over,” Lawrence said. “We’re all panicking right now and so a lot of people are just not being thought of. So, I felt like it was very important that, even at a time like this, people need to have that communication.” —Lex18