Great Britain

Deaf teen, 13, writes to Boris Johnson pleading for introduction of see-through face masks so she can communicate again

A DEAF 13-year-old girl has written to Boris Johnson pleading with him to make people wear see-through face masks so she can communicate again.

Emma Church, from Oxfordshire, said the vast majority of face coverings make lip-reading near impossible - leaving deaf people struggling to understand what is being said to them.

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The 13-year-old is lobbying for more people to wear masks with a transparent panel to help deaf people communicate better during the pandemic.

The teen sent the Prime Minister a home-made see-through face mask along with a letter in the hope that he will understand the struggles she is facing.

Emma said: "The reason I’m writing to you is because of face masks.

"I was hoping to make you see what life is like for deaf people.

"There are other deaf people worse off than me. Being deaf is no joke, especially when we cannot communicate.

"You know what would be really cool, Mr Johnson, if you wore a clear face-mask in public, that way 12 million people would know that you care and understand what our life is like."

MASKING THE PROBLEM

People in England are required to wear a face mask in shopping centres, shops, post offices, supermarkets, banks and takeaway outlets.

But this has now extended to theatres, concert halls, museums, places of worship, hair salons and galleries.

Police can slap those caught breaking the rules with £100 fines.

Public Health England recently recommended that children under the age of three should not wear face coverings for health and safety reasons.

In May, nine organisations wrote an open letter calling on the government to include advice on speaking to deaf or deafblind people in their guidance on face maks.

12 million people are estimated to be deaf or have hearing problems in the UK.

Deaf people will face months of misery as they struggle to understand what's being said to them, putting them at an even higher risk of isolation and loneliness at a critical time

Beccy Forrow

The National Deaf Children's Society has called on the government, Public Health England and NHS England to look into making transparent face masks more widely available.

As the use of face coverings has become compulsory in many public venues, the need for the widespread availability of transparent face masks has become all the more urgent, said Beccy Forrow, a campaigner at the National Deaf Children's Society.

Ms Forrow said: "This is a hugely important issue for deaf people across the country and it's great to see young people like Emma picking up the fight.

"As face masks and coverings become widespread, deaf people will face months of misery as they struggle to understand what's being said to them, putting them at an even higher risk of isolation and loneliness at a critical time.

"This issue needs to be addressed urgently and we hope Boris Johnson and his Government act swiftly.

"In the meantime, people can help by demonstrating good deaf awareness and using gestures, writing things down and wearing a clear face mask."

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