Masks & COVID-19
There have been some concerns and uncertainties around the wearing of masks during the Coronavirus pandemic and how this might affect the communication of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
Deaf Services and The Deaf Society follow the medical advice from the Australian Government and understand the need for face masks in certain locations and settings to help reduce the risk of community transmissions of COVID-19.
For Deaf people, our preferred method of communication is Australian Sign Language – Auslan, rather than written or spoken English. Sign language is the first language of many Deaf Community members. Sign languages are visual languages, and rely heavily on visual cues, such as lip movement and facial expressions, so when people wear face masks, even when they are communicating in sign language, many aspects of our communication is also masked, and this makes things very hard.
Deaf Services and The Deaf Society have developed graphics to assist you in advocating for communication when masks are being worn in your local area.
Download these to your phone, so they are available for you to use in the workplace, when accessing medical support or wherever else you might need to.
These will support you to explain that it can be difficult to understand when someone is wearing a mask and that they may need to book an interpreter or look at other ways of communicating.
Download the images below.