By Diandra Hilario, Staff Writer
The current pandemic has been hard for everyone around the world, forcing many to change their day-to-day lives to accommodate the difficulties that coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought. While most individuals can adjust to rough times with little to no trouble, others like those from the deaf community have lost most of their communication abilities. Since facial expressions are a huge part of American Sign Language (ASL), many of the community are not able to communicate with one another due to face covers being enforced. For instance, Ashlea Hayes told The New York Times that before the pandemic, she used to do her grocery shopping without assistance, even though she is both deaf and blind. However, lately due to COVID-19, she has been relying on delivery services, which have been extremely beneficial to her. Sadly, not everyone in the community has enough resources to acquire these services, making grocery trips that were once simple, complicated.
Another new rule that has been unfavorable to this community is the six feet rule. Plenty of deaf people need interpreters to be near them in order to communicate with those who have a language barrier. This help is most needed in hospitals, specifically to deaf people who cannot read lips due to face coverings and must maintain themselves six feet away from nurses and doctors. Although hospitals are providing COVID-19 patients, like Jennylee Bruno, who is deaf, an online interpreter, she believes it did not help her enough because of internet issues. There were times when Bruno was unable to comprehend what the interpreter was translating. Many ask what others way hospitals, businesses, government, non-governmental
organizations, etc. can accommodate those in the deaf community. The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) asked these entities to facilitate resources, such as transparent face masks/shields, the essential information in text format and speech-to-text apps. In addition, those who must communicate with individuals of the deaf community should be patient and understanding of the person.
To conclude, many people from the deaf community believe the United States needs to learn how to manage pandemics better since the government generalized all the instructions and restrictions without considering those who need accommodations.
Taylor, Derrick Bryson. “For the Deaf, Social Distancing Can Mean Social Isolation.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/us/coronavirus-deaf-culture-challenges.html.
Miller, Leila. “Coronavirus Poses Added Challenges for Hospital Patients Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2020, www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-16/coronavirus-deaf-hearing-hospitals-interpreters.
World Federation of The Deaf . “Statement on Accessible Communication for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Google, Google, 31 Aug. 2020, docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwfdeaf.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2020%2F08%2FIFHOHYP-WFDYS-Statement-Final-31aug20-1.pdf.