Face Masks: Businesses support calls for face coverings to help D/deaf and hard of hearing people

As of today (24 July) face masks or coverings are now mandatory in shops across England. Research finds that businesses support calls for clear panel face coverings for employees, customers and clients.

Face masks and coverings have been hotly debated in recent weeks, with Scotland making face masks and coverings mandatory ahead of England.

Now, as face masks are compulsory businesses have supported a call for clear face coverings to help D/deaf and hard of hearing people.

There are 12 million people who are deaf or living with a hearing loss in the UK and almost all of them rely on visual clues, such as lip reading and facial expressions, to communicate.

FINDINGS

Findings from Business Disability Forum suggest that 90 per cent of businesses and organisations would recommend the use of clear panel face coverings.

Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum said: “Cloth face coverings are creating a significant communication barrier for lip readers and for the huge number of people who may be unaware that they rely on lip reading to support their hearing.

“Our members have told us that they want to remove this barrier for their employees, customers and clients, but to do so safely, they need swift action from the Government.”

The research also found that 63 per cent would mandate the use of clear panel face coverings; and 40 per cent said, in principle, they would purchase clear panel face coverings.

Concerns around purchasing clear panel face coverings include supply, quality and cost.

GUIDANCE

In order to ensure people are not left behind, Business Disability Forum are calling on the UK Government to:

  • Update its face mask guidance for businesses and the general public to reflect the benefits for lip readers of the use of clear panel face coverings.
  • To approve the use of clear panel face coverings or both PPE and non-PPE use.

“It’s fantastic news that businesses overwhelmingly support the use of clear face coverings among their staff, customers and clients,” added Susan Daniels OBE, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society. 

“Alongside a better understanding of how to communicate clearly with deaf people, these masks would be a real game-changer.”

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