The use of protective masks worn by healthcare workers is more important than ever, however without other effective communication tools, masks can alienate the 48 million people in America who live with hearing loss - many of whom rely on lip-reading to help with communication.
Disability and hearing loss advocate Jack Clevenger learned this the hard way recently when he found himself unable to communicate with masked paramedics trying to help him during a medical emergency at his home.
Behind their masks, paramedics ran through a slew of urgent questions about his medical history and the symptoms he was experiencing.
Partially conscious, without his cochlear implant processor on, and unable to see their mouths to lip-read, Clevenger was left completely unable to understand paramedics. After helping calm his wife, she was able to help with communication. He was eventually cleared and told that what he was dealing with was severe dehydration.
The next day he emailed the Prescott Arizona fire chief who promptly arranged for all paramedics in their city to be required to have live dictation captioning tools on their iPads.