Tackling Face Mask issues for the Deaf community

July 22, 2020

We’re proud to be leading the veterinary industry by introducing a raft of measures to support our deaf clients and combat the adverse effects of face coverings.

We have moved quickly to train a number of our team members in sign language and have also introduced see-through face masks to ensure our clients who are deaf or have hearing issues receive as much support as possible when visiting the hospital.

Daniel Hogan, hospital director here at Southfields, said: “We adapted to the Coronavirus pandemic very quickly and efficiently across the hospital and have been able to offer to support to all of our clients and patients.

“With the easing of restrictions, we are now able to welcome more clients to the hospital, however, it is clear those with hearing issues can be really affected by the use of face coverings, as they rely heavily on visual clues for effective communication.

“I am actually unilateral deaf myself, so am already a British Sign Language level three signer and I am providing basic training to members of our team.”

Another element of our drive to support the D/deaf community is the introduction of transparent face coverings for members of the team, which will enable lip reading.

Daniel said: “We’re aware facial expressions and lip reading are pivotal to the way we communicate, especially in what can be an emotive time for our clients as their beloved pets are given specialist medical treatment.

“We’ve brought in a range of see-through face coverings, so our clients can not only communicate via signing but also clearly see our team members’ faces as we discuss important elements of their pets’ treatment.”

We have also introduced socially-distanced appointments for people with hearing issues.

Daniel said: “We introduced video calls within days of the lockdown being announced and they have been a great help to us in continuing to provide vital assessments and treatment of patients throughout the pandemic.

“We want to make things as easy as possible for our clients with hearing issues, so we’re now able to offer them appointments within the hospital and eliminate any possible challenges video calls might present.”

Anyone who would like to find out more information about these appointments, or any of the steps we have put in place to support the deaf community, can get in touch with us via email or social media.