Malawi National Association of the Deaf (MANAD) has expressed worry over mandatory wearing face masks saying mask is becoming a communication barrier for the deaf community.

On Friday last week, government gazzetted mandatory wearing of face masks in public as one way of preventing further Covid 19 spread and said the law will come effective from 8 August.

Minister of health Khumbize Chiponda announced that those contravening the newly gazetted rule of wearing face masks in public will be fined ten thousand kwacha.

But MANAD executive director Byson Chimenya says the deaf are seeing this as a barrier to communication especially when seeking social services.

“We rely on lip reading especially when communicating with people who do not know sign language and with the coming of mandatory face masks, it is becoming a communication barrier,” says Chimenya.

He says they are struggling to talk to service providers who do not know sign language and it looks rude to ask people to remove their masks, especially this time when wearing masks in public is mandatory.

MANAD has therefore urged authorities to consider how best the new rules can incorporate their challenges fearing many of the deaf will end up being arrested.

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