For Deaf People Like Me, Mask Mandates Impose Never-Ending Isolation

- THE FEDERALIST - GELLER REPORT - Brad Kirby - DEC 21, 2021 -

The young, the old, the deaf, business owners, truck truckers, health care workers, – all sacrificed on the pyre of Democrat totalitarianism.

Trying to be ‘normal’ and have a normal life was always my goal. That has been nearly impossible for nearly two years now.

Alone. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Empty. Sidelined. Ignored. Dismissed. Did I mention alone? These are just a few of the words that describe what a person who is deaf or hearing-impaired feels like on a daily basis.

It’s not a huge population in our country who have hearing problems, but to us it is a huge burden. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 2-3 babies born in America out of every 1,000 are born with a hearing disability. Add those with people who lose hearing due to trauma, illness, and age, and approximately 15 percent, or 37 million Americans, over the age of 18 report at least some trouble hearing.

I was born with hearing loss in both ears. Since the age of six, I have worn hearing aids. Being hearing-impaired has been a huge life disadvantage. For example, as a child I couldn’t hear the whistle while trying to play sports, and continued playing until I see people laughing or trying to get my attention. I’ve missed jokes because I couldn’t understand the words being spoken. When I laugh, my hearing aids squeal because my ears move and the gap in my ear canals causes feedback.

I only hear parts of sentences and I am constantly having to process, in a fraction of a second, the sounds of words said, then to mentally match those sounds to words I have heard before, then to put the whole sentence together in my mind just to be able to communicate.

Trying to be “normal” and have a normal life was always my goal. That has been nearly impossible for nearly two years now. In spring 2020, the first face mask mandate due to Covid-19 went into effect. I knew I was in trouble.

Not only do I not like things in my face because of incidents in my law enforcement career, it also hurts to have the loops behind my ears when wearing my hearing aids. Couple the pain and discomfort and my mild PTSD with the fact that now I cannot understand a single word spoken to me by someone wearing a mask because I can’t read their lips or see their facial expressions.

I went to a hardware store to look for a specific part, only to get the wrong thing because I couldn’t understand the associate. I got harsh looks from the teller at the bank and a cashier at the grocery store because I asked them to pull down their masks and repeat what they said because I can’t hear. That got me harsh looks from people behind me waiting in line too.

I was told “no” by a store associate that he will not pull his mask down to tell me what I needed, for fear that I would get him sick. These are a few of countless other incidents of looks, stares, and comments when I have a family member with me and ask them to tell me what is being said.

It is embarrassing being the different one everywhere I go. I can’t even go to church. I tried the FM radio parking lot services and the live video feed on my computer, but neither had closed captioning. I have been without church since April 2020 during the voluntary closures of “15 days to slow the spread.”


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