Make see-through face masks available to help the deaf and hard of hearing communicate

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The government have announced that face coverings will be mandatory in shops in the UK from the 24th July, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

People with hearing loss, like myself, rely heavily on lip reading and facial expressions when communicating with others (whether that be through British Sign Language or orally). Communicating with others is already challenging for a lot of deaf/ hard of hearing people, and face coverings will make it even harder. By covering people's mouths, deaf/hard of hearing individuals will not be able to lip read/read facial expressions and will struggle to interact with fellow shoppers and staff, if at all. This is creating a lot of anxiety amongst a lot of people with hearing loss.

Government guidelines do state that you are exempt from wearing a face covering if you have a "reasonable excuse to do so", including disabilities. Hidden Disabilties UK are running the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme, which enables people who feel that they cannot wear a face covering to obtain a lanyard, with a card inside saying "face covering exempt". This is a great idea, however it only solves half the problem for those with hearing loss. Individuals with hearing loss can be exempt from wearing a face covering themselves, however most people around them will be wearing coverings, making communication extremely difficult.

I understand that health comes first and I welcome measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, I believe that such measures should be as inclusive and accessible as possible. I am asking the government to make mandatory face coverings see-through, and/or make plastic, see-through face visors cheaply and readily available in supermarkets. Everyone's mouths would then be covered but visible, helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. without making the lives of those with hearing loss more difficult in these already challenging times.