From February 2022, facemasks are no longer mandatory in secondary school classrooms across Scotland. While wearing masks has been important for keeping children and everyone else safe during the pandemic, it has meant that many deaf young people who rely on lipreading and facial expressions have been left feeling isolated and unable to communicate. For deaf school children, being able to understand their teachers and keep up with their peers has been a significant issue. Many have been left feeling like they are falling behind, as well as dealing with the mental exhaustion of trying to socialise without the ability to lipread or read facial expressions.
The lift mandate means that engaging with lessons, teachers and their classmates will be made much easier. We celebrate this change and hope that deaf children find their school experience to be improved.
However, masks are still required within communal areas, such as when moving through the building between classes. Our CEO, Phillip Gerrard, describes seeing the effect it has had on his own deaf children, who would “come home exhausted from school, feeling low because they couldn’t take part in conversations with friends.”
To help combat these feelings of exclusion and isolation, we encourage parents to kit their kids out with clear face masks. Clear face masks mean that deaf people who rely on lipreading and facial expressions to communicate can be included once again, while keeping everyone protected. We would love to see more and more young people wearing these, supporting those we have faced these barriers to communications.