A petition, created by Dubbo's Hayley Corby, for the implementation of all accessible and deaf-friendly masks has garnered more than 100 signatures within 48 hours.
Mrs Corby said, although she is 'all for' safety through the use of masks, consideration needs to be taken, especially in medical settings, for those with conditions which affect their ability to hear.
"I am deaf and though I speak and communicate well in oral english, I still rely on lip reading when I can't hear," Mrs Corby said.
A spokesperson from Western NSW Local Health District said all staff caring for or working within 1.5 meters of any patient are required to wear surgical masks during COVID-19 as a NSW Government requirement.
"If a patient or carer is deaf, the medical staff member can take off the mask if they can safely practice physical distancing measures," the spokesperson said.
Mrs Corby said she accompanied her husband to the emergency department for a sport related injury. Upon entry to the hospital she said she was not given a chance to speak until she had a mask on.
"The security guard proceeded to pump hand sanitiser into my hands and ask me mandatory questions to do with COVID-19. I quickly became frustrated, because I couldn't understand him.
"I pointed to my hearing aids and told him I was deaf. When my husband was being treated there was no consideration of my disability. I didn't know what was going on. This needs to change."
Mrs Corby said the use of closed-in masks in medical settings in operation theatres and birthing units and has always been an issue, not just since COVID-19 restrictions had come in.
"I was again restricted due to masks when my son had surgery. My children were delivered and I could not see the surgeons mouth when she excitedly told me the sex of my babies."
Western NSW Local Health District spokesperson said they do provide a free interpreter service for patients, families and carers, providing confidential and professional interpreters.
"The interpreter service is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People who wish to access this service may find it useful to carry an interpreter card, to let their health care provider know.
"This card can be obtained through your nearest Migrant Support Service, The Deaf Society or from a Social Worker at one of our Western NSW Local Health District facilities," the spokesperson said.
Mrs Corby said lip reading is also important for those who have speech delay or impairment, or a physical disability such as acquired brain injury where watching someone speak 'makes communication barriers less confronting, less overwhelming and more helpful to those experiencing limitations.'
"Why hasn't there been a push for accessible - breathable masks -for all, especially in the medical setting? Is there not an option to have an alert on our Medicare card or hospital file that someone has a hearing disability and consideration should be taken when communicating? What if it were something serious that I had to give my consent for? "
All accessible masks include deaf-friendly masks with plastic-windows installed over the mouth area as well as clear masks and breathable masks made from thinner materials such as cotton.
You can sign the petition at http://chng.it/qXns6JLQ.