Deaf, special education teacher seeks to make clear masks for those hard of hearing

People who are deaf and hard of hearing rely on sight to understand others, but right now, many are missing important cues because of masks.

News 12 Staff

May 5, 2020, 9:43 AM

Updated 1,449 days ago

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People who are deaf and hard of hearing rely on sight to understand others, but right now, many are missing important cues because of masks.
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Kim Weinstock is a deaf and special education teacher in Long Branch, and really misses the children. She worries about what the deaf and hard of hearing are missing because of masks.
"A week ago, my oldest went to ShopRite with me,” says Weinstock. “He said mom, how are you going to be able to hear me through the mask?"
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Weinstock says the only reason she can hear is because of her cochlear implants.

"I know for a fact, if I was using hearing aids, or if I only had one cochlear implant, there would be no way I would be able to hear through a mask," says Weinstock.

It’s a reality that has one of her friends anxious about leaving the house.

“She said, 'it stresses me out, going out, not knowing how people are going to react to me,' and that should not happen."

Her solution:
"All essential workers, I'm talking about when you're face to face in public, they should be wearing a clear mask," says Weinstock.
 
Or at least have one handy.

"It's not just for the deaf, it's for the hard of hearing,” says Weinstock. “It's for the elderly whose hearing is going."

Dr. Eric Sandler is an audiologist with The Hearing Center.
“Even normal hearing people rely on visual cues to be able to understand and hear the full message, especially in noisy places. "
 
But are clear masks an option? Dr. Sandler says not in all environments, due to infection concerns. The challenge is designing or finding ones that don't fog.
Weinstock is also working on special masks that read, I’m deaf or hard of hearing to let others know.


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