LABOUR’s shadow education secretary, Kate Green, is backing the National Deaf Children’s Society’s campaign for transparent face masks.
The charity’s Keep It Clear campaign calls for the widespread introduction of face masks with clear panels over the mouth, which it says will be huge help to deaf people when they communicate.
There are around 12 million people in the UK who are deaf or living with a hearing loss, including more than 50,000 children, and almost all of them rely on lip reading and facial expressions to understand what others are saying.
The charity says that when masks are opaque, both of these techniques are almost impossible and it could leave deaf people at a higher risk of isolation and loneliness as a result.
Ms Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, was sent a clear mask by her local Deaf Children’s Society and called for others to wear them.
“Face masks are compulsory in shops and on public transport to help keep everyone safe. Wearing a mask with a clear panel can really help communication with Deaf children and adults.
“I’m very grateful to Trafford Deaf Children’s Society for sending me one to try. I hope to see lots more people wearing clear masks when I’m out and about.”
Sally Etchells, a campaigner at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “We’re delighted to see MPs like Kate Green speaking out and supporting this vital campaign.
“Almost all deaf people rely on lip-reading and visual cues to understand what others are saying, but opaque masks make this impossible and deaf people could face months of misery as a result.
“It’s absolutely crucial that clear face masks are made widely available and we’re calling on governments across the UK to make this happen.
“In the meantime, if the public show good deaf awareness, such as writing things down, being patient and using gestures, this would also make a huge difference to deaf people everywhere.”