Shannon Heroux, a deaf woman from California, shared two videos on TikTok that went viral in a short time. She said that she was denied service at a donut shop because she could not communicate with the staff due to her hearing problems and highlighted the struggle of deaf people to communicate during the pandemic.
Shannon commented on his video that she normally wears a cochlear implant so that she can hear and read the lips of people she meets, but that day she was not wearing it and had to do a Uber when he decided to stop for a coffee.
When he entered the establishment, he had his face mask But when he approached the counter, he was unable to communicate with the clerk, who was standing behind the Plexiglass. Since he had his mask, he couldn’t read her lips so she lowered hers for a moment to tell him she was deaf.
“When I got to the front, I lowered my mask and said to the clerk very quickly ‘Hi, I’m deaf, how do we do this?’ And I put the mask back on and was ready to order“, started Heroux in his story. “She gestured to call her manager … A couple of minutes passed and I try to approach her, like ‘Hey, I have to go, can I place my order?’”
At that moment, the manager came over and started talking to her, but she couldn’t understand him from his masks, plexiglass and distance among them, in addition to other ambient noises in the store such as music and coffee machines.
“I keep telling him, ‘I’m deaf, I can’t hear you. I’m deaf, I can’t hear you ‘“, said Heroux. “And he was still talking to me. I can tell when people are talking because the mask is moving, obviously. And he kept saying, ‘I can’t hear you, I need to read your lips’”.
She said the manager kept pointing at the door and “repeating the same phrase over and over again“, What she assumed to be a”you have a good day”. She tried to ask a customer in line behind her to translate, but she couldn’t hear it through her mask, and she also didn’t have a pencil or paper to write her request.
“I realized that I was repeating the same phrase and after the third time I said ‘Are you really not going to accept my request?’ And just shook his head“, said Heroux. “And my heart sank, like ‘What did I do wrong?’ So I got out of the car and got in my car and it took me a minute to understand that I had been denied service.“.