COVID-19 Poses Challenges for Disabilities; A Deaf woman describes her recent grocery experience

Kimberley Fugate

Muskoka Post Staff

Kimberley Fugate is from Kentucky, she recently wrote a post on her Facebook page urging people to be patient following a heartbreaking experience she had while grocery shopping. Her post has gone viral and we wanted to share with you the importance of Kimberley’s message.

“Many of you that know me, know I’m Deaf. You probably also know that I’m pretty resilient. With COVID-19, many places require you to wear masks. Grocery stores, doctor offices, etc. I went to the grocery tonight to pick up a few things. I wore my mask. It’s a weird feeling. A feeling I’ve never experienced. The feeling of it being hard to breathe, glasses fogging up, and an overall anxiousness. At least for me. I rely on lip reading a lot even though I can hear pretty well with my cochlear implant. Well, kinda hard to read lips when everyone has a mask on, right? So, I took my cochlear off to go in the store. Why? The ear straps of my mask rub it and make an unbearable noise. So I go in and do my shopping. I arrive at the checkout line and someone stops me. I assume they’re talking, so I tell them I can’t hear. They realize what I mean so they grab a piece of paper and write what they’re asking. Cash or card? Gotcha. So I go to the register. Woman scans my groceries. Says something to me. Tell her I can’t hear. She gives me the wave off with her hand as if she’s telling me never mind. Well, no. Not never mind. I tell her to write and she gives me the same hand wave again. At this point, I’m frustrated. I pay for my groceries and go to my car. And the tears fall. They fall hard. I’ve faced a lot of frustration with communication while being Deaf, but never like this. In this time we’re living in, it’s hard. It is so hard. My dear friends, please be patient with anyone you come across who is Deaf or hard of hearing. These times are not easy on us in the way of communication. It’s so simple to dismiss someone, but you have no idea the feeling that puts on us. It hurts. Be patient. It goes a long way.”

Everyone has a story, everyone is living in this new world and it might take a while in learning to navigate in it. But understanding goes an incredibly long way.

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