I am writing a letter to inform you that the deaf community around the world has an annual Deaf Awareness Week at the end of September. Deaf Awareness Week of 2021 is on Sept. 20-26.
In this letter, I would like to mention how people wearing masks are affecting the deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Employees wearing masks make us feel like second class citizens. We don’t like telling people that we are deaf or hard of hearing then they still keep talking with their masks on. We feel it is very rude. We rely on lip reading and facial expressions to communicate. We want to be treated like human beings. We are tired of this whole communication barrier every time we go out in public. It has taken a lot of energy out of us. This is getting so old for us. No one has the right to make our life much more difficult. Communication is a basic human right. We feel our basic human rights have been taken away.
Masks and restrictions are also isolating us even more. They are harming our mental health. It led me to be hospitalized at Wyoming Medical Center then Wyoming Behavioral Institute last November. I lived in Casper at that time.
When freedom speaks, the deaf can read its lips.
All we are asking for is compassion. Thank you.
ALLISON CUNNINGHAM, Laramie