How are Face Masks Affecting Communication?
We’re always inspired by our human connections - with our friends, our families, or even strangers. These connections are so important to us and they inspire our creativity, our journey and the stories we love to tell! Fostering those connections can take time, work, and a whole lot of communication. These days in the age of COVID-19, almost all communication is digital. As a Deaf person, the use of video chat, closed captions, and text messaging is nothing new. In-person communication during this time has a new layer of complexity, though: face masks! They can wreak major havoc when trying to understand each other, regardless of our hearing levels. They hide much of our faces, our entire mouths, and muffle our sounds. They can even be painful for those who wear cochlear implants or hearing aids. The use of masks also seems to reduce the use of gestures. They have become crucial in reducing the spread of Coronavirus, so we love the safety benefits, but face masks come with a set of challenges unique to 48 million Deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States.
Without facial expressions and being able to see the mouth, face masks can be a major barrier for more than just Coronavirus. They can impede, and often eliminate, the ability to understand each other. While lip reading may be a skill that some Deaf people use, most people who are hard of hearing or Deaf rely heavily on facial expressions and gestures in their communication with people. In fact, gestures are integral to human communication as a way to extend spoken language’s limitations! For example - using your hands to show how large something is is far more effective than describing it in words.
The use of masks can lead to frustrating encounters, serious miscommunication, isolation, and increased chances for mental health illness like depression and anxiety. It’s important for all people - hearing or Deaf - to keep in mind that facial expressions and body language are absolutely key when communicating with Deaf or hard-of-hearing people, especially when wearing a mask! So amp up your expressiveness and use those gestures while wearing a mask, and improve your communication skills with all people.
Luckily for everyone, there are some pretty ingenious artisans coming up with creative solutions like face masks with clear panels (great for both hearing people and Deaf people) and reusable clear face masks with anti-fogging agents. For example, Etsy seller SomoFinds is offering this 3D transparent anti-fog mask with multiple trim colors (pictured here). We love the simplicity of these masks, their adjustable ear straps, and the various chic, monochrome colorway options! These masks will go with anything!
You can also communicate in other ways, like wearing a great statement necklace to show your love. Our solid yellow gold Love Sign™ Pendant Necklace with diamond bail is a chic and luxurious way to express love. Designed as a fresh take on the classic heart necklace, it’s a way to show inclusivity, awareness, and a positive outlook toward others.
Whether you’re looking for a solution to improve your communication with members of the Deaf Community or you just want to show your love to the world, there are plenty of ways to express yourself through your accessory choices. Do this and follow other simple tips like using speech-to-text apps (or paper and pen!), paying attention to your body language, how you use your eyes and eyebrows, and making eye contact to get back to connecting with each other!
Peace and Love,