Imagine that all you hear is silence. You’re scheduled for surgery and have just arrived at the hospital. Since you’re deaf, you may have already requested accommodations to communicate with your surgeon and staff. You’re quickly wheeled into the operating room.
Imagine that you lose your ability to communicate because everyone is wearing a surgical mask. Visual communication is your lifeline. Your language and communication options are heavily visual: sign language, lip-reading, facial expressions, gestures, and countless other visual cues.
In the operating room, everyone is wearing surgical masks. You ask staff to take the masks off so that you can better understand them, but they cannot. They seem to be speaking to you, but you do not know what they are saying. Even with a sign language interpreter in the room, you cannot fully understand the conversation because everyone’s faces are covered up. As staff conduct their last safety checks without your full participation, you are left voiceless and confused.
Imagine you don't feel human. This experience happens everyday to the 20% of the population who are deaf or hard of hearing, including our own ClearMask team members. Communication barriers like surgical masks result in confusion, fear, anxiety, and mistrust. These are common experiences for children, those who do not know the same language as their providers, older people, and countless other groups.
The ClearMask, with its increased visibility of our full faces, helps improve understanding and communication for everyone, fostering the foundation of human connection in healthcare and beyond.