Mandatory face masks : the use of inclusive transparent options

Mandatory face masks : the use of inclusive transparent options

18 November 2020

Alerted to the communications difficulties encountered every day by people who are deaf or hard of hearing as a result of the general requirement to wear a face mask in enclosed spaces that are open to the public and, more recently, in public spaces, the Office of the High Commissioner contacted the Government to ask that the measures taken and the health guidelines issued to combat the spread of coronavirus be adapted to give additional consideration to the specific needs of people affected by deafness. This group includes a large number of elderly people.

To this end, the Office specifically recommended equipping government staff who have contact with the public with inclusive transparent masks that enable lips to be read.

Given the requirement to wear masks from the age of 6 in schools, the Office of the High Commissioner also encouraged the Monegasque authorities to extend this measure to the school environment in order to facilitate learning for the youngest students, and to better meet the specific needs of pupils who are hard of hearing or have difficulties with communication, while offering more effective protection against the virus than the visors used by some teachers.

The Office of the High Commissioner is pleased to note that these steps are set to come into effect very soon. In response, the Government recently confirmed that it had acquired a large stock of inclusive transparent masks.

These will be distributed to teachers of nursery and early primary school classes, language teachers and those who teach pupils with disabilities.

Eventually, pupils in Year 2 (CP) and Year 3 (CE1) may also receive their own transparent masks.

As suggested by the Office of the High Commissioner, an information campaign will also be launched in the near future under the aegis of the Disability and Social Inclusion Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Social Services.

The aim will be to raise public awareness of the impact of mask wearing on those who are deaf and hard of hearing, and to propose strategies or behaviours to adopt so that all organisations in the Principality which are open to the public are able to adapt the welcome that they offer.

The High Commissioner, who had an opportunity to discuss these issues directly with H.E. the Minister of State in early October, welcomes the attention that Mr Pierre Dartout has paid to these problems and the speed of the response that he prompted from his staff.