Deaf and hard of hearing community push for clear face mask

Posted at 4:56 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 21:18:45-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — The pandemic has impacted everyone directly or indirectly and when it comes to times of disaster it’s important that the message is clear.

Mike Helms is deaf but he’s also the Vice President of adult education and outreach for Bridges. The nonprofit advocates for those with hearing loss.

Helms tells us, since the pandemic, it’s been a challenge for many in the deaf community to communicate with the hearing when they’re wearing a face mask.

"Many of the face mask themselves will conceal a lot, so it makes it very difficult for our deaf and hard of hearing communities that I’m apart of to be able to lip read or have equal access," said Helm.

If something is covering or concealing the face, Helms said they're not getting a complete message because they can’t hear.

Helm advises hospitals, pharmacies and the government to have an interpreter on hand to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing.

When it comes to employees of restaurants and other services, he asks that they try to get access to clear masks.

"Since this outbreak, it’s given us a new experience and how we can survive through a time like this, like the time of COVID-19 pandemic," said Helm.

So far, volunteers have been helping to make the clear mask but Helm says they need more.

For more information on Bridges and how to help visit their website here.