May 28, 2020. May is Better Hearing Month and the small group at Hear PEI continues to address hearing accessibility issues with the challenges faced by social distancing and preventative measures in place for reducing the risk of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and keeping everyone safe. Past blog postings have covered some of these issues and suggested solutions:
- Clear-window masks so people can see a person’s lips and use speechreading techniques (Please Encourage The Use Of Clear-Window Masksand Rising To The Challenge To Hear – The Importance Of Seeing Behind The Mask)
- Speech Transfer Systems so people can hear people behind plexiglass barriers, using hearing loop technology (See The Challenge To Hear During The Pandemic)
- Using Hearing Loop Technology for videoconferences (See Rising To The Challenge To Hear – Hearing Loop Technology For Videoconferences)
Masks continue to be the number 1 issue worldwide… Now that hair salons are open on the Island, hairdressers must wear a mask and clients are encouraged to do so at well. This can pose a challenge, as Annie Lee MacDonald found out: “…It certainly made me realize how much I depend on seeing people’s lips when they are speaking. The hairdresser is German and has a strong accent, it was difficult…” (See how masks are being made in Europe: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52764355 and one couple’s volunteer effort in Ontario: https://ottawasun.com/news/local-news/transparent-masks-made-to-assist-deaf-hard-of-hearing/wcm/64fe438c-041b-4e74-904c-84f0c06a8f9d)
Three simple initiatives have been taken to mitigate the challenges faced by Islanders with hearing loss. Efforts by a small group of Islanders may not get the media attention that many others get, but they do help and mean people can run their errands with more confidence.
Three initiatives are helping to mitigate the challenges faced by Islanders with hearing loss…
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown donated a limited supply of Face Shields, which are being offered to Hear PEI members to give out as needed to those they encounter who wear masks. The Face Shields, made by Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited, are Class 1 Covid-19 medical devices, approved for distribution under an Interim Order by Health Canada. They have been enthusiastically received as they are simple to use and provide a clear view of lips and facial expressions. I’m going to take one to my hair appointment for my hairdresser to use!
Our supply of hard of hearing buttons is currently being replenished as more and more people are purchasing them to wear while running errands. A bilingual version, in addition to our regular English language button, will soon be available.
We have asked people to adopt clear-window masks. As commercial supplies are on backorder we had asked for volunteers to help build up a supply by making non-medical clear-window masks. One person answered the call, and we are able to provide a small supply on a per order basis. Word hadn’t even gotten out before we were receiving orders!
Do you like to sew? Are you willing and able to make see-through masks for our members, and for others who in the community who have hearing loss? We have one volunteer and would love to have more. This would be a wonderful and practical way to volunteer to help us during this continued time of social distancing.
Thank you to Annie Lee MacDonald for sharing her story. A huge thank you goes out to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for donating the face shields, and to Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited for making such as simple and easily useable product that is so helpful for people with hearing loss. If you have more stories to share about masks, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also comment on this blog, or send a tweet to @HearPEI. Stay safe!
Would you would like to make a donation towards outreach activities? Here is the link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/34708. Please note that your donation is used 100% for outreach activities as everyone is a volunteer.
© Daria Valkenburg