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Communication Access Tips

For many people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, wearing masks makes communicating even more difficult. Masks muffle sound, making it harder to understand speech and higher-pitched voices. Masks also remove the ability to read lips and see facial expressions, which help better understand what is being said. Everyone deserves the safety and protection a mask provides, just as everyone deserves access to communication.  These are options to make communication easier.

  • Have patience. People who are attuned to reading body language know all too well when you have run out of patience.
  • Use a clear mask if available
  • Maintain good eye contact and face the person you’re speaking to, at a safe distance.
  • Make sure you have your communication partner’s attention first.
  • Ask the person you are communicating with what would work best for them.
  • Gesture or point to objects with words that clarify what you are saying. For example, if you are asking someone to sign for their purchase, you might point to the card reader or receipt.
  • Use visual cues to signal to someone and get their attention; especially if it appears they did not hear you.
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and avoid shouting.
  • Use shorter, everyday phrases and words.
  • Write or type out what you want to say. Pen and paper works fine, but you could also use a small dry erase board and marker or your phone.
  • Move to a less crowded space to minimize visual distractions
  • Ask your partner if they understood you; if not, say it a different way or write it down.
  • Use speech to text apps/programs like these:
    1. Ava (iOS, Android)
    2. Google Live Transcribe (Android)
    3. Live Transcribe by Rob Norback (iOS)
    4. ai (iOS, Android)
    5. Web Captioner (web-based, no app to install so this could be used on your desktop)
    6. Buzzcards (iOS, Android)
    7. Cardzilla (iOS)
    8. TextHear (Android, iOS)