With the new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 now in the U.S., mask wearing is as important as ever to slow the spread of the virus — but masks also pose challenges to communicating, especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. About 16% of people in Illinois have some form of hearing loss. Earlier in the pandemic, when the The Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission announced that it had free clear face shields to distribute, supply ran out, and the commission received more than 26-thousand requests.
So how do we balance the need to communicate with the public health guidelines to wear a mask? And are there certain masks that are better for audibility?