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Saturday 27 February 2021
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Face shields are now an acceptable face covering on all public transport

Deaf and hard of hearing charity Chime welcomed the move.

Image: Shutterstock/Kamil Macniak

THE DEPARTMENT OF Health has confirmed that face shields will be accepted as an alternative to a face covering on public transport.

This comes after Deaf and hard of hearing advocacy group Chime called for face shields to be made acceptable for those who use lip reading to communicate.

“Face shields would be accepted as face coverings on public transport as they may be preferable for people with communication difficulties,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Health.

Brendan Lennon, head of advocacy at Chime welcomed the move, saying that it would make using public transport easier for people who rely on using lip reading.

“We’re very happy and relieved that this has happened,” said Lennon.

“This is great news for deaf and hard of hearing people who rely on lip-reading to communicate, and also to the many people with breathing difficulties who struggle to wear face masks.”

Alongside this, new advice has been issued by the HSE surrounding how healthcare workers should interact with deaf or hard of hearing people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity for many healthcare staff to wear face masks have made communication even more difficult, especially for Deaf or hard of hearing patients who may rely on lip-reading,” said a spokesperson for the HSE.

The advice states that if possible with social distancing, that healthcare workers should remove masks to allow patients to see their mouths to lip read.

See-through visors are recommended by the HSE if masks aren’t being used.

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According to the HSE, the advice was prepared with Chime and the Irish Deaf Society.

According to Lennon, Chime has seen an increase in people contacting them with concerns about not being able to have conversations with people who have been wearing face coverings.

While he acknowledges that the change in regulations isn’t a silver bullet for communication issues, it is a step in the right direction.

“This won’t solve it for everybody, but it will certainly help,” said Lennon.

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