A charity for people experiencing deafness and hearing loss has asked the National Public Health Emergency Team to consider recommending transparent face shields as a reasonable alternative to face masks.

CHIME says that people living with deafness or acquired hearing loss often rely on lip reading, which cannot be done where a face mask is being worn.

Speaking to RTÉ's This Week Brendan Lennon, head of advocacy at CHIME, said as well as making it easier to lip read, the transparent face shields prevent people from touching their face while wearing them.

"We have written to NPHET to ask if they could recommend face shields as a reasonable option," Mr Lennon said

Anna B McCabe form Longford, who has suffered hearing loss over 20 years, spoke to This Week about her difficulty in understanding what is being said to her as more people don masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"Nowadays with all the people wearing face masks, I'm at a loss. I cannot lip read any more which I seem to depend on. More people wearing masks is going to make it more difficult for me," she said.

On the same programme Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Covid-19 modelling advisory group, said it was now "very strongly advised" that people wear face coverings in settings where socially distancing was difficult such as crowded indoor spaces and on public transport.

He said this was becoming more important now that people were moving out of their homes.

CHIME has asked NPHET to recommend the transparent face shields which are available in most pharmacies.


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The deaf community in Ireland numbers about 5,000 and for them Irish Sign Language is their primary means of communications.

However Mr Lennon said HSE figures show about 8% of the population live with severe hearing loss. "That's about 300,000 people who have acquired hearing loss in adulthood," he said.

Ms McCabe agreed that see-through face shields might solve her communications problem.

"I would be able to see the persons lips moving and would be able to understand what they are saying," she said.