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‘It makes me feel isolated’: Deaf community call for more awareness during pandemic

PUBLISHED: 08:59 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:59 19 May 2020

Melissa Julings has spoken out in support of the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Melissa Julings

Melissa Julings has spoken out in support of the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Melissa Julings

Melissa Julings

The deaf community in Norfolk have called for more awareness during the coronavirus pandemic, as protective masks leave them feeling “isolated” and unable to communicate.

Melissa Julings has spoken out in support of the deaf community during the pandemic, as face masks leave them unable to communicate. Photo: Melissa JulingsMelissa Julings has spoken out in support of the deaf community during the pandemic, as face masks leave them unable to communicate. Photo: Melissa Julings

Melissa Julings, 34, from Thorpe St Andrew, in Norwich, has spoken out in support of the deaf community and highlighted the issues they face when people wear masks.

With the mouth and the majority of the face covered, the masks stop a deaf person from being able to lip read as well as read facial expressions, which help them understand what is being said.

And after coming across these problems in her daily life during lockdown, Ms Julings and her close friends in the deaf community have come together to create a video to raise awareness and ask members of the public to spare a thought and help them to communicate during these “difficult times”.

Ms Julings said: “Ever since the lockdown, every time I go to the shop or do my daily exercise, we have been noticing a lot of people with face protective masks.

Mary Jean, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo:Mary JeanMary Jean, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo:Mary Jean

“It makes me feel isolated and as if the whole world has covered my ears up. I can’t communicate with anyone with masks on.

“I think it’s really important that everyone understands how difficult it is for us deaf people.

“There are loads of us who are struggling and of course it’s really important that we wear masks, but there are things people can do to make it easier for us.”

Ms Julings, who is a specialist teacher for hearing impaired children and young people in Suffolk, asked her deaf friends, from across Norfolk and Suffolk, to film themselves sharing their experiences during the pandemic along with ways people can help.

Jules Ellis, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo:Jules EllisJules Ellis, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo:Jules Ellis

This can include asking people to use a pen and paper or white boards to write down what they said, the use hand gestures or pointing or wearing clear masks or visors so they can see the face.

Now the video, which was posted on Facebook, is being shared around the country and Ms Julings said they are thrilled that more people are aware of the problems deaf people are currently facing.

She added: “We are really part of a strong deaf community, and this awareness has really brought our group closer.

“We all need to be patient and to think about the strategies to communicate with deaf people, the more people are aware the more the world is inclusive.”

Craig Butcher, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo:Craig ButcherCraig Butcher, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo:Craig Butcher

Angles Hogarth, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Angles HogarthAngles Hogarth, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Angles Hogarth

Julie Ann Dwyer, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Julie Ann DwyerJulie Ann Dwyer, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Julie Ann Dwyer

Malcolm Sinclair, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Malcolm SinclairMalcolm Sinclair, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Malcolm Sinclair

Hannah Butcher, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Hannah ButcherHannah Butcher, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Hannah Butcher

Steve Hurley, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Steve HurleySteve Hurley, seen in the video raising awareness for the deaf community during the pandemic. Photo: Steve Hurley


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