Jacob McLaughlin was just four months old when he was fitted with his first hearing aids.
Now aged seven, his mum Julie says the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have been hugely challenging for deaf children like him.
And with face coverings set to become part of the new normal, she has told BBC Radio Foyle fresh challenges lie ahead.
“Communication is a massive thing, facial expressions are very important for deaf people, lip patterns, the signs for certain words are the same – the only difference being the lip patterns that you make.
“With a mask the lip patterns do not come across.”
She says Jacob, who also lives with autism, is dependent on a lot of non-verbal communication.
“He can be quite literal, if he doesn’t see your facial expressions to know you are joking or being sarcastic it is kind of lost in translation,” she adds.
Julie says without being able to lip read a “massive part of what Jacob relies on for communication” will be taken away.
Alasdair O’Hara from the National Deaf Children’s Society says while the wearing of masks is a public health decision they will “make it difficult for deaf people”.
“Lip reading becomes impossible, expressions are harder to read, voices are muffled,” he said.
He wants clear face masks to become more widely available.
“One of the things we are pushing for at the moment is for the executive to commission clear PPE for use within health settings.
“Clear face masks are a significant improvement. But they are not the only answer.
“You also have to remember to be deaf aware, take a bit more time, make sure you speak clearly, don’t give up, write it down, use basic deaf awareness tips as well,” he says.
In the UK, eight charities have written to NHS bosses calling for clear masks to be commissioned, warning of “potentially dangerous situations” arising from communication problems.Tags: