Deaf East Texas woman talks about staying safe, communicating through statewide mask mandate

Deaf East Texas woman talks about staying safe, communicating through statewide mask mandate

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Amid a pandemic and the mandates in place, face coverings are important to keep everyone safe. However, masks can specifically affect people in the hearing-impaired community, as well.

Sheila Jolly was born deaf, and finding ways to communicate better is not new to her and her daughter Trisha Jolly.

However, staying safe and navigating throughout the day does have its challenges.

“She said it is hard to read lips and facial expressions while wearing the mask,” Trisha said. “She says it is difficult sometimes to see how people are communicating with her. So, sometimes it’s hard to get that extra help if she’s needing help at the store.”

Sometimes, Sheila has to write on paper and show the store clerk exactly what she needs.

“A lot of times she does do by herself. She is very independent, so she wants to do it by herself,” Trisha said. “But then there are times that the communication between her and whoever she’s trying to communicate with is just not there. And so, I do assist her by taking her to the store and taking her to wherever she needs to go.”

Trisha encourages people to be empathetic towards the deaf community, especially during this time of change and adjustment.

“It is going to take a lot more patience because it takes a lot more time if they have to write it down,” Trisha said. “The same goes for if they are having to point out what they are needing if they’re at the store and if they are trying to pay bills.”

Sheila says clear mask openings would be helpful.

“Simply because reads lips really well, believe me. I think that will be something really good for people that are hearing impaired not just deaf to have that extra support there,” Trisha said.

Trisha Jolly said there is technology available as far as speech to text that will assist people that are hearing impaired or deaf like her mother Sheila.

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