Facemasks and Deaf People: A Reflection on the Problems of the Silent People during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Editorial


Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing, North Khorasan University of Medical Sciences, Bojnurd, Iran.



The spread of the COVID-19 disease has changed all areas of the personal and social life of people. Issues that did not exist in the past, such as the mandates of wearing masks and social distancing, have become the most important concerns and are part of daily routines. With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of facemasks grew exponentially. Global experts have recommended the use of masks and maintaining social distance as an effective barrier to facing the pandemic. In the meantime, the deaf and people with hearing loss faced problems in "communicating" and "losing the ability to read lips" due to the prevalence of wearing masks against the spread of infection. These problems might lead deaf people to isolation, depression, anxiety, and the risk of developing dementia and reducing their quality of life.
Scientific evidence shows that although covering the face with surgical masks helps lower the spread of large particles from an infected person to other people, it does not prevent the passage of small particles such as the coronavirus. Therefore, it is suggested that the legislative and decision-making institutions, when enacting laws, whether in normal or special conditions and crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, consider all people of the society, especially those with disabilities; insist on the prevention of COVID-19 and promote it in a language that everyone can understand. It is also suggested that a representative of these people is present when making important decisions for the people of the society as a member of the decision-making committee to defend the rights of this group of people. Also, transparent face masks, compensatory strategies, and optimization of virtual health and telehealth, telerehabilitation, and tele-education services can be helpful for deaf people during the pandemic.