Friday 16th of April 2021

stressful, not only for cartoonists...


When Brisbane was placed into lockdown on Monday night and people across the city masked up, teacher Amanda Sterling, who is deaf, braced herself for the communication headaches to come.


Key points:
  • Masks prevent people who are deaf or hard of hearing from lip-reading or seeing facial expressions
  • Deaf Services recognise the importance of masks, encouraged hearing community to learn Auslan
  • Advocates say the needs of deaf community largely remain invisible


For people who are deaf or hard or hearing, face masks can be a literal barrier to communication, concealing the facial expressions and movements that Auslan users and lip-readers rely on.

"Everywhere we go presently is more stressful than normal — normal being difficult anyway — because we can't see people's faces," Ms Sterling, who lip-reads, said.


"I've been struggling trying to do everyday things.

RECAP: Look back on the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.


"Just going shopping is highly stressful. 

"I try to follow those normal social cues — for example, I know the checkout person will ask for cash or card et cetera, but I do get it wrong."


Read more:







don’t make assumptions...

A number […] are legitimately not able to wear masks so please don't vilify individuals or don’t make the assumption they are simply stubborn. There will be people with medical, behavioural, psychological reasons […] certainly don’t make an assumption that they should be the subject of your ire.

... some people find wearing a mask difficult or distressing. So, to reduce the risk of inflammatory or inappropriate comments being made, we need to understand some of the reasons why:

  • autism — some people with autism spectrum disorders find covering the nose and mouth with fabric can cause sensory overload, feelings of panic, and extreme anxiety
  • disability — some people with a disability can find wearing a mask difficult if they cannot remove one from their face without help. For example, someone with cerebral palsy may not be able to tie the strings or put the elastic loops of a face mask over the ears, due to limited mobility
  • post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety or claustrophobia — people with these conditions can find wearing a mask terrifying and may not be able to stay calm or function while wearing one
  • hearing impairment — people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those who care for or interact with someone who is hearing-impaired, rely on lipreading to communicate. So wearing a face mask can be a challenge
  • facial deformities or physical trauma — may be incompatible with wearing a mask.
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