The Patient Experience: Capturing the Intricacies of Contributing Factors
December 18, 2020
Response by Josie Baker to OJIN topic: "The Patient Experience: Capturing the Intricacies of Contributing Factors" (January 31, 2016)
The ANA News release (July, 6, 2020), “AMA, AHA, ANA Issue Open Letter Urging Public to Wear a Mask to Stop Covid-19 Spread” makes the case that wearing a face mask is now vital. It is just as important, however, to address accessibility, especially for members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
I have been studying American Sign Language and deaf culture for nearly seven years. I have a unique perspective, as I understand issues in both hearing and deaf cultures. Recently, I realized how much I rely on lip reading to aid in my own communication with others, even though I am not deaf. Simple conversation has become far more difficult and far less accessible with traditional masks and mouth coverings. Accessibility is often not considered in times of crisis. Those in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community often rely on reading lips to aid in their understanding of a conversation between hearing people. When our mouths are covered, a barrier has been put up.
Wearing a mask is crucial, so how can we solve this problem? Several small companies have created transparent mouth coverings. These masks are still protective against COVID-19 and are far more accessible for the deaf community. These masks should be more widely used, especially in professional healthcare environments. This issue is something to consider through the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of healthcare.
BSN student Wittenberg University