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Masks could be leaving out those who are deaf or hard of hearing

Without the ability to read lips, it can be much harder for deaf or hard of hearing individuals to communicate.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Masks are mandated in Illinois and recommended most places in Iowa.

While health officials say it’s keeping everyone safe, it is making communicating for a certain group of people much harder.

Occupational therapist Becky Drish says they're also a barrier for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“We do not want to exclude that population of people. We want to help them as much as we can during our communication with each other.”

Reading lips is something most people don`t consider a basic part of communicating.

But for those that are deaf or hearing impaired this has become a real problem right now as masks become the norm.

That`s why some therapy centers have developed clear masks, that make it easier to read lips while still wearing them.

Drish says, “That helps them have that assistance of hearing what we`re saying.”

Audiologist Ann Perreau believes these masks can make a difference.

“We do have to adapt and see what is the best way to communicate with one another. Hopefully these kinds of efforts using a clear face mask or face shield will be more readily adapted.”

Both Becky and Ann say if you`re struggling to communicate it doesn’t mean you should pull your mask down.

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Instead try other ways to communicate what you are saying to the people around you.

Drish says just be patient and take your time. “You can definitely start to write things down. I always use gestures, repeating it is another way. Like I said, over-annunciation will really help as well.”

Drish and Perreau agree, right now it`s everyone`s job to communicate effectively and clearly.