Falling Through The Cracks

In society frequently….

The phrase is used in society frequently to bring awareness to those who have been overlooked that would otherwise go unnoticed. During this pandemic, there is such a group that have indeed fallen through the cracks. They need our support now, more than ever. Instead, they have been pushed even more into isolation.

The difficult skill of reading lips….

Our hearing-impaired community have been plunged into an even more silent world. After they have learned the difficult skill of reading lips, they are now facing a world of masks. The mandates of face coverings for safety of the public due to the pandemic now leave them with not only an issue of hearing, but one of sight as well. Many are no longer able to venture out and function in the world. It is no longer a place of adapted communication. The majority of those they see are now unreadable.

Sign language is….

Although sign language is something we have all heard of, unless you have frequent direct contact with someone that is hearing impaired, you probably would not have learned any of it. In general, schools do not usually offer it, never mind mandate it, like math and English. This is in spite of the fact that, above all others, it is actually a universal language. Talk about falling through the cracks.

Fears and anxiety lead to….

They face hardships securing employment because of their special needs, as well as constant judgement and criticism over speech impediments that are the result of the hearing loss. They often feel alone and insecure of themselves, trying to navigate through society. Fears and anxiety lead to mental health issues that are compacted by a lack of resources, such as interpreters and education in their communities. Many are forced to struggle with disability as the only way of survival after facing too many roadblocks in their attempts to be productive members of society.

Stereotyping of false beliefs….

They struggle with stereotyping of false beliefs that include thinking they have less mental capabilities, that they lack technology skills or are unable to drive a motor vehicle. Some make the mistake of believing that speaking loudly to them helps, when in reality it can lead to embarrassment when you have now loudly put their limitation on display

Each and every one of us has a purpose and they need the help of their community to fulfill theirs. We can all do our part in raising awareness in our communities through organizations and ways we can show our support.

It costs nothing….

We can learn some simple sign language words and phrases with an easy web search of YouTube videos or other free platforms and then teach them to others starting with family and friends. It costs nothing but a fraction of your time and attention.

You’re literally helping others….

Secondly, purchase face shields or clear face masks in support of those that have mastered lip reading. Some are so skilled at it, you may never have known they were hearing impaired. There are manufacturers who even donate a portion of their products in bulk to selected organizations. Simply purchasing from them literally helps others.

Encourage your community….

If you are an activist, maybe even encourage your community to set sign language as part of the school curriculum or even get others in your community to purchase clear masks as well. If your local library or other organization does webinars, perhaps they could include sign language as one to offer.

What will you do….

Now that you are aware, what will you do to help spread the awareness or show support for those in your community? We really are, all in this together!

Written by Melody Belliveau with inspiration from Ashley Grice #WeHearYou

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