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Face coverings create communication issues for deaf and hard of hearing

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - Face coverings are creating communication issues for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

As more people go out in the public, health officials continue to urge everyone to wear face coverings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

However, face masks eliminate the opportunity to read lips or facial expressions for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, hearing loss affects 48 million people in the United States.

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with Katie Crone who lives in Garrett.

Katie said she has a difficult time hearing people and relies heavily on reading lips to communicate.

With several people wearing face coverings because of the pandemic, Katie said her daily life has been more difficult.

"It's a hard way to live," Crone said. "You can't hear. You can't read lips."

However, Katie's husband, Tracy Crone, helps her often.

Whenever she needs to go to the store, Tracy follows along to help her communicate with store workers.

"She turns to me when she can't understand people through the masks because she can't read lips," Tracy said.

"It's wonderful. He's my rock," said Katie.

Katie told Fort Wayne's NBC News that she has one hearing aid and that she can't afford another one.

So what can help?

A few companies are creating clear masks so that people's mouths are visible.

However, there's an issue.

"You're going to have to have people wear them," said Tracy. "That's going to be the tough part."

Katie and Tracy are asking people to be patient and kind.

"There are people out there that can't hear well, and you need to be courteous when you're wearing a mask," said Katie.

To learn more about this topic, please click here.

Louie Tran

Louie Tran is the weekend anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11pm and a weekday general assignment reporter. To share story ideas, please email him at ltran@wpta21.com.

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