Samantha Baines, who has appeared in the hit TV series The Crown, is supporting a charity’s efforts to promote Deaf Awareness Week which runs from May 3 to May 9.
Samantha, who has a hearing loss, has also been in Silent Witness; Call the Midwife, and several BBC comedies
The actor is helping RNID to promote a new communication card tool during Deaf Awareness Week to help highlight the needs of those with hearing loss and to help educate the public on becoming more deaf aware.
This is in response to the challenges now faced by the deaf and hearing loss communities due to face coverings during the global pandemic.
Many people who are deaf or have hearing loss rely heavily on visual cues for effective communication including facial expressions and lip-reading. Face coverings are a huge barrier to this.
Samantha, who is an ambassador for RNID, said: “The last year has been interesting to say the least and created a whole new world of challenges to communicate for those of us that are deaf or have hearing loss.”
She added: “Going to the supermarket and places like that has been really difficult over the last year. I have anxiety and get anxious socially anyway, but on top of that, I now have to worry about a face covering and communication as well as potentially knocking out my hearing aid whilst wearing the mask.
“You worry you won’t be able to hear people, you worry you are going to have to ask them to repeat themselves too many times and you can see the frustration in people when you say ‘Sorry I can’t hear can you repeat that again please?’ I don’t think many places have been deaf aware, it’s not been a priority for them as obviously the priority has been keeping everyone safe, but with the added barrier of masks, it has been really challenging.”
Franki Oliver, an audiology specialist at RNID, said: “Too often people who are deaf or have hearing loss find that society isn’t deaf aware, and the coronavirus pandemic has only created more barriers to communication. It is now even more important that everyone considers how they communicate with each other to be as inclusive as possible. We hope that this communication card, which people can use tell their own story, will help to educate others as to how they can meet people’s communication needs.”
• Visit www.rnid.org.uk/mycard to find out more about the new communication card as well as communication tips.