There have been many questions about whether face masks being used at universities will be accessible for deaf learners. We have (as I am sure you have) come across a number of providers of these new types of face masks. They are being developed for communicating with deaf people. They are a cotton surround with a transparent plastic rectangle sewn into the month panel so that deaf people can see lip patterns.
So, do I order them how?
The simple answer is no. Well, not right now, anyway.
I say this for three reasons:
1. These masks being produced have not yet been tested widely enough to ascertain their usability.
One of the face mask providers is in conversations with the NHS. They are testing and getting them signed off by the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) for mass production and use.
So, until all has been approved, we would recommend waiting.
2. The masks are also currently being tested in the community. So the next month or so will tell which masks are working best. This feedback will help make sure that any purchases you make are the most suitable ones.
3. Currently, most Universities are planning online contact with students only – which means that all communication will happen through existing arrangements, i.e. BSL Interpreting or Electronic Notetaking. Click here to read about How to include a deaf person in a video conference
So right now, there is no rush.
Making a decision now may result in the wrong product choice.
We also don’t know where we will still be in September, so we recommend assessing things on a bi-weekly basis and taking action when you know FOR SURE you’re welcoming deaf students back to campus.
In this ever-changing scenario – hold off until you know for sure.
We are keeping a close eye on the developments within face masks and will keep you regularly updated on the situation.