A Deaf Person Can't Lipread Through a Mask: How to Make Vaccine Sites More Accessible

Katie Norton is a powerlifter who is hard of hearing and is passionate about advocacy for the deaf and hard of hearing. While she was very grateful to be able to get her first COVID vaccine, she noticed that communication wasn't as clear and easy as it could be. She posted these two TikTok videos to offer tips on how to make vaccine sites more accessible to the deaf or hard of hearing.

One of her tips was to have a piece of paper with the questions, so the person at the vaccine site could point to the questions instead of having to relay solely on verbal communication. Norton pointed out that it's impossible to lip read if someone is wearing a mask, so seeing the questions would have alleviated that communication barrier. "This accommodation really isn't asking that much," Norton said. It would make such a difference to the person getting the vaccine, whether they are hard of hearing, elderly, or if English isn't their first language.

Always make sure to have a piece of paper and a pen ready incase you are in contact with someone with hearing loss, Norton said. If you find yourself in this situation, write down the questions you need to ask the person and they can write back and forth with you. This allows for more seamless communication and ensures you both know all the information. The more you do this, the more awareness you'll bring to the need for accessibility.