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Thoughts from the front

Thoughts from the Front is a collection of posts by members and associates of China Vision, reflecting their experiences and thoughts about disability, China, and related topics.  

About the writer:


Chris is the Secretary and author/editor of China Vision's news blog. She was diagnosed with Nystagmus soon after birth, schooled completely within the specialist education system.  She met her first Chinese students while at technical college in 1970 and has spent over 40 years as a volunteer for UK organisations supporting people with visual and other disabilities. Chris was a founder member of China Vision. 

To mak or not to mask is the question

To mask or not to mask is the question (for those with a disabling condition)

To mask or not to mask, that is the question for those with sensory impairments



It is mandatory law throughout the UK that adults and children (under 11s are exempted) on public transport and in public buildings including all shops.


However, those with disabling conditions may be exempted if they can’t physically put on or take it off, or it affects your sight.


Most of us would rather wear the mask than not, but what do you do when you discover that the mask introduces unintended consequences?


Those of us with more than one condition are finding out.


I was born with an eye condition known as Nystagmus.  My eyes move rapidly from side to side: I also have one eye stronger than the other.  This makes it difficult to climb stairs, walk over rough ground and read anything very far away.  I need to wear sun spectacles most of the year, but in a shop I must often change to reading spectacles.


Last year I was diagnosed as hard of hearing - a natural part of ageing in my case.


The first time I put my mask on, I put my hearing aids in, and put my mask on: the mask loops had to fit behind my hearing aid battery compartments which rest just behind my ears snugly against my skin. Then I carefully tried to add a sun hat with another pair of strings as hats may fly off my head in a slight breeze.  I then cautiously added my sun spectacles which felt as if they were resting on top of the hearing aids.


Audiologists are reporting many similar accidents where hearing aids get caught up in masks as one tries to remove them.  Some people who need to wear their hearing aids at all times now wear their hearing aids attached by elastic to buttons on a band across their heads. For those who can manage for short periods without their aids, we leave them at home.


The answer lies in a plastic ‘ear extender’ which is a short piece of plastic with a series of notches in which when the mask, which needs fairly long loops, are hooked then go either under the ears and back if neck, it across the back of the head, alternatively any type of scarf bandana according to taste.

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