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Video: Mask requirements strip away deaf students' ability to lip read

ASU deaf students speak out on communication issues they face during masked conversation


A "Forks up. Masks up." sign outside the Beus Center for Law and Society building on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Masks are a new normal for many in 2020. Although worn with good intentions, the item takes away the ability for deaf to read lips. 

Not all people who are deaf rely on lip reading as a form of communication, but many use it to support conversations with others. Deaf students spoke about how their transition to conversations with people wearing masks and their experience with online learning.

Manager of deaf and hard of hearing services at ASU, Lori Johnson, offered some tips for effectively communicating with someone who is deaf or hard or hearing:

  • Avoid simply talking louder. Masked or unmasked, this is ineffective.
  • Ask if they would like to text or use pencil and paper to communicate.
  • If possible, suggest to socially distance yourself and remove your mask so that your lips can be read. However, note that not all people who are deaf read lips.

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