Hear Entendre Québec board members have written a letter to Mayor Valérie Plante (see below) highlighting challenges that people with hearing loss face when communicating with others wearing cloth masks. “I personally experience the obstacles with cloth masks firsthand daily” says board member Katrina Tarondo, who shares her daily struggle with Plante.
The letter suggests alternatives to cloth masks that are more beneficial to everyone and urges the city to promote accessibility for people with hearing loss by promoting the use of clear masks and face shields.
“Clear masks and shields provide a better communication tool to people with hearing loss who rely mostly on lip reading and facial expressions,” says Heidy Wager, Executive Director of Hear Entendre Québec, and adds, “We have raised funds through our Safe and Clear Campaign to purchase clear masks and shields which we have been distributing to anyone needing them in the community.”
The letter to the Mayor encourages the use of face shields which experts have stated can protect all the areas a virus can enter: eyes, nose and mouth. They also make breathing easier for everyone especially during the summer heat. Clear masks also improve mental health as seeing someone’s face while speaking is very important for non-verbal communication and maintaining relationships.
Hear Entendre Québec’s mission is to continuously improve the wellbeing of individuals affected by hearing loss, and to help prevent hearing loss in future generations, by providing needed courses and awareness sessions to those who need it. During the pandemic Hear Entendre Québec has been working with its partners to deliver food to senior people living in the West Island.
Hear Québec (formerly known as CHIP) is Montreal’s only non-profit organization serving the English-speaking community with hearing loss.
L 'honorable Mairese Valérie Plante
Mayor of Montreal
275 Rue Notre Dame E, Montréal, QC
Chère Mairesse Plante,
I am a member of the board of directors of Hear Entendre Québec; a non profit organization whose mission is to improve the wellbeing of those affected by hearing loss and help prevent hearing loss in future generations.
During the current pandemic, one of our goals is to promote accessibility for people with hearing loss, like myself. Cloth masks make it difficult for individuals with hearing loss to hear as it covers one’s mouth, which does not facilitate lip-reading and muffles speech. I personally experience the obstacles with cloth masks firsthand daily. I have spoken publicly about the experience with a journalist from CBC (Face Masks/Hearing Loss).
Hear Québec created the Safe and Clear Campaign to raise awareness and funds to purchase clear masks and face shields to give to anyone in the community. There have been many discussions going on about alternatives and how they are more beneficial than cloth masks. Experts (Demand for Faces hields) have stated that face shields can protect all the areas a virus can enter: eyes, nose and mouth. They also make breathing easier for everyone especially during the summer heat. Clear masks also improve mental health as seeing someone’s face while speaking is very important for non verbal communication and maintaining relationships.
Due to the reasons above, we respectfully urge the city to lead by example and use clear masks/ face shields and encourage their use by others especially those that serve the public. It will help make them mainstream. It is everyone’s responsibility to help create a more inclusive society and keep the lines of communication open for citizens. As masks have become mandatory as of July 18th in enclosed public places across Quebec, it will be more important than ever that everything remains accessible for all.
Please feel free to contact us for more information or to inquire about obtaining clear masks and face shields.
We thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.
On behalf of Hear Entendre Quebec, Sincerely,
— Hear Entendre Québec