Mask trial by Gloucestershire Deaf Association
Gloucestershire Deaf Association is a charity. We provide vital practical and emotional support to children, young people and adults living in Gloucestershire who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafened. All the services we offer aim to enable a person to live confidently with their deafness. We passionately believe that no-one deserves to live in a world of isolation and loneliness. But, and this has been felt worldwide, isolation and loneliness have become a big challenge for people during the pandemic.
As partners of the Let’s Be Clear campaign, we were eager to take part in the mask trial. Deaf and hard of hearing people from Gloucestershire started to tell us very early on in the pandemic that face masks were creating a huge barrier to communication for them. So, we joined the campaign to speak up about this issue and get more people wearing clear masks around the county in support of the deaf community.
The first thing we discovered in the trial is that masks are very much an individual choice, and also the size, shape and colour matters.
Jemima from the team tried a couple of different masks and the mask by StitchedByEmmaLouise came out on top. It was really comfortable to wear and Jemima would definitely recommend it to family and friends.
Sadly, the rest of the masks didn’t generally fare as well with the team. The main issues were around steaming up of the plastic and one of the team found that dark coloured fabric around the mask made lip reading more difficult because of the shadows the fabric cast. The fit also varied between masks, some of the masks can be bought in different sizes but until you have bought and tried on the mask it is difficult to really know which size you need.
Reg from the team tried the Show my Smile mask and after having tried a few different clear masks felt this was a good alternative and that he might recommend to friends and family.
Overall for us at GDA, the search is still on but we will be using everything we have discovered during the trial to inform our mask buying in the future. It’s also important for us to reiterate the messages of the Let’s Be Clear campaign, that a clear face mask is a great start in making communication easier, but there are also lots of other ways we can help:
- Be patient – allow time and repeat what you are saying if needed
- Use hand gestures – get someone’s attention and help get across your meaning
- Go somewhere quiet – a quiet place with good lighting may help you both
- Write it down – or try a live speech-to-text app on your phone
To find out more about Gloucestershire Deaf Association visit www.gda.org.uk