"Additional challenges" for the UK's deaf children from COVID-19

 

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The threat posed by lockdowns to the development and mental health of the UK's 45,000 deaf children has been highlighted by a featured open letter in The Guardian newspaper, signed by ten prominent hearing and paediatric health experts.

Underlining the challenges caused by isolation from deaf peers and having limited access to British Sign Language, the letter (published on June 7) places special emphasis on the problems caused by obligatory mask-wearing policy, pointing out that "the increasing use of face masks creates large communication problems for deaf children and young people".

"We are currently seeing rises in complex mental health issues exacerbated by isolation and communication problems in the context of Covid-19," the authors of the letter claim. They call not only for options on see-through masks and face shields to be carefully considered, but also for access to good communication and deaf peers through electronic or other means as lockdown is relaxed.

The authors of the letter include Prof. Barry Wright, Chair of child mental health, University of York, Clinical lead, National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS); Rachael Hayes, Deaf service consultant, National Deaf CAMHS; and Lenka Novak, Deaf mental health adviser, National Deaf CAMHS.

The UK, of course, is not alone in this concern for deaf youngsters, who face similar challenges worldwide. And coronavirus restrictions and strategies are affecting the hearing impaired generally, not just the young. Audiology Worldnews recently reported on this concern in India, here.

Source: The Guardian

P.W.