'I’m doing the best I can': Deaf Sask. woman pleads for patience over mask challenges
Published Tuesday, March 9, 2021 3:38PM CST Last Updated Wednesday, March 10, 2021 4:00PM CST
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon area woman wants to bring awareness to the challenges deaf people face during an era of mask-wearing.
“When I’m out there and trying to talk to people I’m super stressed out because I have no other way to communicate with them other than read lips,” said Christin Young, of Martensville, who is deaf.
“I don’t know how we’re going to survive this, but I’m doing the best I can because I have to.”
She used to be hard of hearing, but now is almost entirely deaf. She had to quit her job as a financial planner because she couldn’t manage Zoom calls once her business moved online.
Her nine-year-old daughter is on the autism spectrum and is non-verbal. The last year has been hard for her and confusing for her daughter who doesn’t understand what’s happening with the pandemic, she said.
Young says she rarely goes out in public to avoid the frustration of not knowing what people are saying even though she loves going for coffee at Tim Hortons and McDonalds.
She’s had bad experiences out in public with some people getting angry when she tells them she can’t see their lips and can’t understand what they are saying.
She has asked store clerks or others in public to lower their mask briefly so she can see what they are saying, but that doesn’t always go over well.
Robyn Holmes with Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services says having patience is important during these times and asking someone to back up and then take their mask off is one way of avoiding a negative confrontation with someone who is fearful of not having the mask on.
Holmes suggests that anyone interested should go online to learn some simple sign language words or phrases in the event they encounter someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Young said she has written to the Ministry of Health asking to make clear masks mandatory in some places, but didn’t get any response. CTV News reached out to a ministry spokesperson, who said they are trying to find the letter.
Young has been in contact with others in the deaf community who say they won’t go to a COVID-19 testing station because they can’t understand the instructions.
“We have to adapt a lot more than people that don’t have special needs. I don’t think people really understand that for those with special needs, it’s really hard to understand what’s going on,” Young said.
Young has made some strides though, saying she called one of the testing stations and asked if clear masks could be kept on hand to see patients who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The nurse she spoke to said clear masks were purchased at her request.