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Event aims to raise awareness of people with hearing disabilities in Tokyo

woman at the convenience store
Photo: Silent Voice

While many of us have been adapting to a masked way of life during the COVID-19, there’s a segment of the population that’s been affected by not seeing people’s faces are people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Lip reading is an important tool that people who are deaf or hard of hearing use to communicate. Understanding what’s being said just from looking at the motions of the other person’s lips is a highly developed skill, and something people with normal hearing might be taking for granted.

The rising normalcy of wearing masks worldwide has made it difficult for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to rely on this skill. Silent Voice, a Japanese NPO that “helps people battling with communication barriers,” is holding an event to raise awareness of this issue.

The event is called “Deaf Mart” and it puts participants in a convenience store where they won’t be able to use their sense of hearing. This is done by blaring loud music that makes it difficult to hear anything else, and participants are challenged to try explaining what they want to the staff despite all the noise.

The event will also promote Silent Voice’s Clear Mask Project, where they’ll be distributing 10,000 clear masks for free to people with hearing disabilities.

“Deaf Mart” will be held for one day in Tokyo on December 4. For more information, go to Silent Voice’s website.

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