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How to Communicate With Masks On (Because Lipreaders Are Screwed)

How to Communicate With Masks On (Because Lipreaders Are Screwed)

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This post is about simple solutions to communicate like the deaf: that is, solutions to by-pass the need to lipread or hear, especially during this time of mask-wearing.

This essay and resources are available in a downloadable PDF for my patrons, linked here.

It’s also at the end of this post for people who benefit from access to PDF’s, along with the MP3 of me reading this post through my podcast.

Center for Disease Control is now saying that face masks are to be worn.

Which is good and right and I totally support this, BUT

But, but BUT!

I’m a lipreader and with masks on over lips, I hear absolutely nothing. I mean, NOTHING.

I can only tell that people are talking by dint of their eye movements or body language.

The Girl Who Invented Clear Masks for the Deaf

the girl with the clear mask for the deaf

God bless this girl and all, but if I get another link to these posts about how she invented this clear mask for us deaf, I’ll scream!

And it’s so useless to send ME this stuff; if people really want to help with this, send it to mask makers, to hospitals, doctors, to Target and Home Depot!

I’m not the one who needs to know that clear masks should exist, or know tutorials for how to make one, because I don’t have the wherewithal to make a bunch of clear masks and give them out to pharmacists, shop assistants and whomever else I need to ask a question of.

I don’t need to know that this is an issue; I’m pretty well aware of that already.

But what I did need to know were some solutions. I mean, what AM I going to do?

Face masks are not – and should not – go away anytime soon. We need people to wear masks, and in that vein, I don’t a solution to be for someone to lift their mask up to talk with me –  I like my health too, and I don’t want them spitting Coronavirus on me because I can’t hear.

Solutions to Not Being Able to Lip Read or Hear Because of Mask Wearing Include:

  1. Embrace being deaf

This means, just sign.

Just get into ASL (American Sign Language).

Most people don’t knowASL, but at least if I sign and refuse to talk myself, they won’t go thinking that because I talk so clearly, I can actually hear them.

To facilitate this, it’s best if I just don’t wear my hearing aids, or turn them off.

Read My Post on Learning ASL Online

The best ways to learn and practice ASL online right now

learn ASL online

 2. Carry a White Board and Sanitizer

I like this option because it’s low tech.

I can hand them a whiteboard to write their responses to quick questions, and I can wipe down the dry erase pen and board in between uses with some lysol.

speech to text apps

3. Speech to Text Apps

There are some really good ones out there now.

So good, in fact, that I wrote a whole post on the best ones (it’s linked here: Best Speech to Text Apps).

The good ones include large font, so I don’t have to get too close to the person who is talking. They also have the option to pre-program the app with set phrases so I wouldn’t have to get started with everything while standing in front of the person.

It’s also fairly easy to wipe down my phone after being in the air that’s in the vicinity of others.

Communicate Like the Deaf

Deaf people have been figuring out how to communicate with the hearing for, well, as long as there have been people around.

Because I do hear when I’m wearing my hearing aids, and because I am such a ninja at lipreading, I have not had to figure out English/Deaf communication anywhere close to the extent that a person who hears absolutely nothing (- with or without hearing aids/implants) has to.

People who do not have the option of hearing aids and lipreading are pros at communicating in an entirely different way, and it was to them that I turned to when I needed to know some solutions for this here and now.

I am very grateful for the time they took to respond to my questions, and for the game-changing solutions they offered.

Download the distraction-free PDF bundle for this post here.

Please note: it does cost me time and money to produce these PDF’s, so I truly appreciate it if you become a patron (- even $1/month) and download the PDF’s (and MP3’s, when I have them) that way.

However, I will always keep these as a free option, for those of you who have disabilities that need that access, and who may not be able to afford becoming my patron at this point.

You can become my patron by clicking here.

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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