A PENSIONER is urging people to be mindful of the impact masks can have on the deaf community.

Jean Macdonald, who has been deaf since falling ill with measles at the age of five, spoke to the Tele on behalf of the 'forgotten' voices of the pandemic.

With the widespread introduction of mask wearing, the 70-year-old's main form of communication - lip-reading - has been practically cut off.

She believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of the struggles deaf people are facing - and hopes allowances can be made.

Jean said: "I really rely on lip-reading to communicate.

"I have a hearing aid but it's not always good.

"It's really difficult in shops and I always ask people if they don't mind pulling their mask down so I can lip-read.

"Some people do it, but other people say no."

Jean's life has changed dramatically since the pandemic hit, only visiting local shops such as Sainsbury's and the Co-Op to get essentials.

She hasn't been in the Oak Mall for shopping since February.

She believes that the government should introduce exemptions for people to lower their mask when talking to someone who is deaf to allow them to lip-read from a safe distance.

Jean added: "My daughter wears a clear face mask, which is a big help.

"My family help me a lot - my daughter is a godsend as I can't see in the dark.

"She helps me and my son does the same."

As well as receiving assistance from her family, Jean also benefits from the company of her hearing dog of nine years, Lewis, who helps with various tasks around the house.

Jean continued: "Lockdown was scary, being at home alone.

"I have my hearing aid but Lewis alerts me to things like the doorbell and smoke alarm and I'm also able to go out walking with Lewis a lot to get fresh air."