This post was originally published on the Disability Programs Specialized Services website.

In Quebec, everyone 12 and up now has to wear a mask in indoor public places.  Children 10 years and up now need to wear masks on the school bus and in the common areas of their school. This is because masks are important for stopping the spread of COVID-19. However, masks can cause problems for those with disabilities. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, elders, those with anxiety or who have poor language skills might all have trouble when talking to someone wearing a mask.

Those who speak Cree as a first language and don’t speak English well, may have problems too.  They often get medical treatment in English and a normal mask can make it hard for them to understand what a nurse, doctor or therapist is saying. This is because when you are speaking to a person, they might use lip-reading and facial expressions to help them understand what you are saying. Masks make this hard or impossible, because your mouth (and part of your face) is covered. They can end up feeling alone, frustrated, embarrassed and stressed.

If a teacher, parent, doctor, nurse, Speech-Language Pathologist or other health care professional is wearing a mask, it can be much harder for the person with a disability to understand them.

Watch this video that explains why these masks are so important.

If you think that the clear mask would help someone you work with or love, don’t wait and try it out! They are more expensive than regular disposable masks; but it may make the world of difference to someone with a disability.

How to Get Them

If you want to start using these see-through masks right away, you can make your own.

Fortunately, Health Canada has approved a new transparent mask that people can order.

  • If you are part of the Cree Health Board of James Bay Quebec and would like to use these masks with your clients, samples have been ordered…stay tuned!

Disclaimer

Quebec’s CNESST recommends only wearing homemade/tissue masks if you can keep a 2 meter distance.

References:

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