|Green face mask that says: “I’m not ignoring you.” on the left and “I’m Hard of Hearing” on the right with HOH in ASL|
As many of you know, I am a Hard of Hearing Autistic adult. I rely on lip reading and ASL. I am normally able to fake being able to hear effectively when I am in public. If you are curious about my hearing journey click here.
I am not advocating not wearing a mask in any way shape or form. If you cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons, you shouldn’t but I do not fall in that category.
Yesterday, on my way home from my last dog, I stopped at Walmart to get squirt bottles for two of my kids. They requested them and if they need something and can tell me why, I usually get it for them. I was already tired and had some photosensitivity. I put my mask on and went into the store. The travel section was out but thankfully they had a double pack on a clip strip. Not only did they have them but the pack came in each of their favorite colors so that would make them happy.
I walked over to the checkout and there was a lady who was the cashier. I would say she is about in her 60’s but I am not very good at guessing ages. I was the second one in line. She yelled at me. I could not hear what she was saying. The face masks muffle speech and I could not see her mouth. The person in front of me proceeded to talk to me and I could not understand them either. I was growing increasingly frustrated.
I signed to her , “do you sign?” She gave me a dirty look.
I then said, “I am Hard of Hearing. I can hear that you are speaking but I cannot hear words.”
I pulled out my phone and I opened the MYEAR app. This app live captions everything around you. If you speak into my phone it will turn it into text. If you are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, it is a game changer.
This cashier refused to speak into it so I could see what she was saying. Continued to to ring up my order, which was just spray bottles. I said I have my own bag. She gave it to me in a plastic bag anyway. (One thing you will know about me if you know me, I use reusable bags everywhere. I have a cat that likes to eat the plastic bags. )
I could not believe it. When she was done, I ran my card and she waved to me like she treated me well, like she treated me like a human.
In my case, accommodation was easy. Just speak into the phone so i can see what you are saying. It does not take any extra effort or time. Treating me like a human did not take up any extra time. Disabled people just want to be treated like we are human. That’s it. Next time you see someone who “ignores” you because of the communication difficulty the mask places on the person, be kind and make sure they can “hear” you.
This mask in the photo is one I ordered from a Deaf artist. With people assuming, wearing this type of mask is necessary to make things known that I am not being rude, I simple cannot hear you.