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Helping the deaf and hard of hearing community during COVID-19

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Posted at 6:14 AM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 08:07:53-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — One Mid-State organization is working to bridge the gap for those who are deaf or hard of hearing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For months there’s been a huge push for everyone to wear a face mask while out in public, but there’s one community that’s been having a few challenges communicating as a result. Most of us don't often think of the challenges that may come with these types of face mask, but for about 37.5 million American adults, it's a daily struggle.

Back in March, when face coverings were first suggested as tools to protect against COVID-19, members of the deaf and hard of hearing community came together to discuss their experiences and come up with solutions.

Mike Helms, the Vice President of Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, says everyday tasks are often impacted, even something as simple as grocery shopping. He took me inside some of the ideas they came up with.

“‪There are some that are fully cloth but have a clear small panel for the mouth,” Mike Helms said. “There are also some that I made of a plastic material they’re fully transparent. We also had the idea to use a face shield it also has a piece of cloth at the bottom to secure it so it will secure from transference.”

The general public can continue to help the deaf and hard of hearing community by trying to learn as much sign language as possible to better communicate. Here's a link to sign up for virtual classes.