Credit: Andrew Goodwin
Transparent face mask are being introduced to encourage the continuation of lip reading and assist people with hearing loss or deafness.
The severeness of hearing impairment which can affect one or both ears, is measured by the level that sounds need to be adjusted to in order for it is registered. Hearing loss refers to people who have very little functional hearing in the same way as others. Deafness occurs when persons cannot understand speech or sound that is amplified through hearing. Profound deafness is the stage where persons are incapable of detecting any form of sound.
Hearing impairment or deafness can affect any individual regardless of age, it is estimated that at least 50,000 children and 1.2 million adults suffer from some form of hearing loss.
Deaf Awareness Week is an annual occasion that embodies these different levels of hearing impairment while educating people about what is meant by deafness including raising awareness regarding how those with hearing loss can help themselves by for example using the most suitable hearing aids.
Many organisations have been working relentlessly to ensure that awareness is raised particularly during this last week. JDeaf is one of the various organisations that according to their mission statement encourage the ‘breaking down’ of ‘barriers between deaf and hearing people’.
JDeaf aims to prevent stigmatisation concerning hearing loss from occurring and remove the concept that people with hearing loss are unintelligent. Often those with hearing loss misunderstand what is being articulated due to the lack of well fitted hearing aids, Hearing Matters in Care Manager, Andrew Goodwin said, “there is a perception that if you have hearing loss you are stupid”, as communication is gravely impacted, many then acquire this misconception that leads to isolation and depression.
The NHS provide free improved hearing aids yet less than 46% of the adult that could benefit from hearing aids use them and those who do use hearing aids chose to the smaller versions not because it is effective but rather because it is less visible.
Over the last week JDeaf have been heavily promoting four images on social media, that give insight to the current difficulty with lip reading when people mumble or if their wearing a face covering. It is evident that wearing masks means we are missing out on key facial expressions therefore, the organisation that works with the NHS had reached out to face covering manufactures during the initial lock down regarding the development of transparent face masks and the idea was rejected however, other individuals decided to produce these transparent covering that are also type 2R certified which means they can be utilised in medical settings. As a result of gaining funding JDeaf have been able to distribute free masks to care homes and schools to encourage the inclusion of everyone.
During the rest of the year JDeaf will be collaborating with care homes, to provide deaf awareness training for care staff and people in hospitals to ensure that they have knowledge about how to assist patients in a way that is best suitable to them.
Unfortunately, for the second consecutive year interactive events such as talks that took place at various community centres and care homes have not been organised due to the global pandemic. Events have been bought to a holt and has changed to merely giving out leaflets, depending on social media to carry forth the message nevertheless, JDeaf will be working all year round to ensure that this mission is achieved.
For more information about JDeaf visit: https://www.jdeaf.org.uk or call 020 8446 0214