Deaf Centers of Nevada encouraging others to wear clear masks
Officials say wearing clear face coverings can help with communication.
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Masks are a big part of our everyday lives as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, fully-covered face masks can make it challenging to communicate. The Deaf Centers of Nevada said there’s over 10,000 people in the Silver State who are deaf, blind, hard of hearing, or have a speech impairment.
Officials said the community relies on reading lips and facial expressions and they hope people will start wearing clear face shields or masks to avoid miscommunication. Community Engagement Manager Tim Smalley said, “I think this is the time where we can start educating everyone in our state.”
He continued, “That access for us is a barrier by wearing regular full-face masks, now if they can just make one small adjustment that can make a huge impact in our community, then we gain back some of our access and independent living.”
According to Smalley, masks are on back order from their mask supplier. He said these masks are needed to pass out to everyone. “Our community needs these types of resources to give them that equal access to communicate, which has been lacking profoundly since COVID-19 has begun.”
If you want to donate masks, Executive Director Obioma Officer suggests donating to places where members of the community frequent, such as grocery stores, schools, and hospitals.
She said, “Start to pour to other locations where you know services are provided, our medical professionals, donate see-through masks to them, empower them to know, hey invest in these, because its beneficial for this population.”
Smalley said if you’re not wearing a clear mask and someone cannot communicate with you, be patient and at least willing to write down your message via phone or paper.
“There was an employee that approached me and started talking to me and I was explaining that I do not understand what they are saying.”
Smalley continued, “I had an audience, people watching, and this person continued to talk, I tried to gesture write to me, unfortunately this person wasn’t willing to work with me.” He added, “Having that mask, having that clear plastic guard, we’ll be able to enable me to communicate better.”
The Reno Deaf Centers of Nevada is closed due to the pandemic, but if you want to donate clear masks you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Officials will set up a safe place to meet you and pick up the donations.
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