'It's been a struggle': Profoundly deaf NHS worker on the challenges of being surrounded by people wearing face masks

Matthew Walker is an advanced clinical practitioner, and works in the emergency department at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley.

Quick decision-making and communication are part of his working day, but the Coronavirus pandemic has created another new challenge.

He's profoundly deaf, and relies on seeing people's lips move to work out what they're saying, and watching their faces, to determine how they're feeling.

Once his colleagues and patients are wearing face coverings - that becomes impossible.

An everyday constant struggle that I'm facing, it's hard work.

Matthew Walker, Advanced clinical practitioner

Luckily, he says he works in a great team who understand his difficulties, but says one invention could make life even easier - clear face masks.

Textile worker Sarah Sewell from Nottingham was already making masks, when a friend suggested she try making versions with a clear front panel.

A mum told her recently,

It'll be great, because my little boy will be able to lip read now.

As told to Sarah Sewell, Textile worker

Alison Jones is the CEO of Communication Unlimited, which supports deaf people and people who are hearing impaired in Derby.

I rely on facial expressions, body language, when people are wearing a face mask I can't see their eyes so I can't judge whether someone is talking to me, so I'm having to look all around me all the time, it's scary.

Alison Jones, Communication Unlimited

Wearing face masks in shops will be compulsory from July 24th.

Campaigners are asking people to be a little more aware of the extra impact that will have on some, and to consider practical help, like a clear mask or face shield, or increased signs and visual guides, for those who may have difficulty hearing.

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