VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Wearing masks in public is becoming an increasingly popular health precaution amid the pandemic, but for those who are deaf or hard of hearing it eliminates crucial means of communication.
“It’s already quite challenging being deaf or hard of hearing.” Yat Li of the Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility tells NEWS 1130.
“This pandemic has created several more challenges when traditional communications are affected.”
Masks make it impossible to read lips or see some facial expressions, two things that people who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on for communication.
With that in mind, Wavefront, a non-profit organization that helps provide more access and inclusion for the hard of hearing in B.C. has teamed up with another company to create 3D printed face shields.
The Deaf, Hard of Hearing, sign language interpreters, and audiologists need face shields to communicate. We've partnered up with @WavefrontCentre to lend a hand. Find out how you can help, too! https://t.co/ojO12EkQLt#covid_19 #covid19 #ppe #faceshield #3dprinting #tinkerine pic.twitter.com/qAEBHu7IKQ
— Tinkerine (@Tinkerine) April 22, 2020
The transparent shields facilitate clearer communication.
“Being able to see through a face shield is important for audiology. We have essential clients that come in to fix their hearing aids and not being able to hear clearly through this pandemic can be very stressful. Not only are they protected, but we’re protected as well.” Li added.
Tinkerine is a 3D printing studio that’s offered the masks to Wavefront. People can help out if they wish by purchasing a mask for someone vulnerable in their community.
“Communication is really important to us,” Li says.
“At our website we’ve translated some of the BC Ministry of Health press conferences. We’ve been sending interpreters to different organizations to ensure that communication is broadcasted clearly and correctly. We’re finding new ways to conduct our business and make sure the right people are helped in a way that is correct and accurate for them.”
Li says the people who work for the non-profit have been affected, but Wavefront is an essential service during this pandemic, and they will continue to evolve.