How are deaf people managing communication-wise during the time of Coronavirus?

I am upset after my shop this morning, at my local supermarket. It all boiled down to me not hearing well as I thought I had and so due to that, I now feel the bad person.

After getting what I needed and knowing as I am paying by cash currently until next pay day and then I will use my card with knowing money comes out ok shopping here, I went my way to a self checkout till. But those were closed. Now as I don’t normally use these, I am not aware until after the event, that there were some more further up. I went to these self checkouts, because they were the ones I used first time last week. I asked a member of staff that I was paying by cash and pointed to the ones closed, what do I do. I thought from her response I got to use an end till to pay by cash. I didn’t hear her say there was another lot of self check out tills further down. I just heard till.

I struggle to hear in a supermarket before all this on a normal day because of my deafness and in addition my sensitivity to sound I still have, because of whatever is in the background noise overhead, the tills the people going about their shopping. It’s just noise to me.
I wish all supermarkets in general just stop the background noise full stop and not just make it quiet for a short time (I think an hour) once a week for autism. We don’t need music, or whatever it is in the shops overhead. It’s not like I am going to a disco, or whatever. I am trying to understand store workers who I don’t know, so not going to be able to lipread all the time and it’s tiring too. This all is increasing my anxiety.

But in addition, we are now all facing difficult times as we all have to make changes and I find hearing someone 2ft away, in noise, absolutely impossible to hear and I can’t lipread them due to different factors like for example to give a few:

  • Do they speak clearly
  • Are the lip patterns clear to me
  • Do I know them? Because it helps, if I do.

So I am looking at the rows as I walk down and all I can see are checkout tills. I am looking at the till in the distance with the basket sign, thinking as this is last till maybe she wants me here. But no one was on I could see, so I didn’t walk that far down. I went now to what I think was next last manned till, my anxiety already at its peak before I reach here and I load my items. Out comes my note. The cashier saying I can’t except cash. I could not pay by card because I have no cash in my account to account for this shop. Not until next pay day, with me still in my month where I am paying by cash still. I pointed out I was told to come further down, when I queried further up near closed self check outs and so I thought I had to come here. I said to him I was aware of using self check outs to pay by cash, which was why I queried further up at the closed ones I was paying by cash and so I would use them. But I wasn’t aware of there being some more further down and I did not hear that being mentioned. I did not see those self checkouts, otherwise I would have used them. He accepted my cash this time, but pointed out I can and will be refused next time.
Again I told him I was aware I had to pay cash at a self checkout and I was prepared to use them. But I did not see them and I was not aware of further self checkouts further down.

I did not hear about the part that there were futher self check out tills further down. I just heard tills.

I did not see those tills and I wasn’t aware of them until aftrr this event at the till.
I would have happily put my groceries back into the basket and gone to those tills than have that embarrassing conversation at the till, that made me look and feel I wasn’t complying, when all I wanted to do was a self checkout originally and get out of the shop as quick as possible, with my anxiety and not wanting to be around that many people right now in the world we are living in.

I totally respect the store colleagues that have no choice to be in this situation. But please. I am not the bad person I was made to feel.
I did not hear as I thought.
I did not see the other self check outs. Which if I had, I would have used, because I do comply with what you would like as a supermarket. This was loss of communication due to my deafness and the noise in store and having to now stand 2 meters apart from a person, that I did not hear that vital piece of information.


© Elizabeth Fisher and My Wellbeing and Learning Journey.

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66 thoughts on “How are deaf people managing communication-wise during the time of Coronavirus?

  1. This sounds like such a nightmare. I’m sorry Liz, that you had to go through that.

    I do agree that music needs to stop in shops. Sometimes it’s so loud even more hearing people.

    I’m struggling with this 2 metre business as it’s just too far away for me to hear the person and I’m not the greatest at lip reading.

    Stay strong xx

    1. I thought you would struggle too on the 2 meter distance.
      Cos sometimes I can get in a routine like when I use the self checkout for first time, I remember where that is so I know that is where I go to. But be a I have neveriked using self checkouts and so avoid them, means I don’t look. So I didn’t know there was another lot except for these, hence I queried about how I go on. I thought I’d done well hearing until then the incident.
      I have wrote to the store manager, highlighting that its not a complaint, I just wanted to raise awareness and I made a suggestion that because I am visual and it helps especially with my anxiety, that could an arrow be put on notice to show its closed with an arrow to point in direction of next available self check-out tills.

  2. Blind people have white sticks or guide dogs but there are no visual clues if someone is deaf or hard of hearing. So it’s a tricky one to navigate. However, you shouldn’t have been made to feel as you did by the staff. I too would love supermarkets, restaurants etc to switch off background music. It’s way too intrusive.

    1. Thanks for your comment Sheree. I have written to store manager, stating its not a complaint, I just want to raise awareness about today’s incident and my suggestment of a sign on barrier saying these are closed please use alternative self checkouts with an arrow pointing in direction I would need to look. Since being deaf, I find I am very visual and with anxiety sometimes preventing what I need to see, a simple arrow pointing direction I need to walk to scan for next self checkouts would help me greatly.

      I totally agree about restaurants too. I know hearing people alone can have difficulty here.

      1. Yes. I bet they have a laminator, so could easily print one off accordingly and laminate to display when necessary.

  3. I understand you completely Liz. I wonder if there is some kind of badge or something you could pin to you telling people you are profoundly deaf. Also I too was going to suggest you write to the stor trying to raise awareness. I don’t think many people are truly aware of the real and intense problems of deafness. And people usually are not the nest of speakers. I as a blind person have that problem too, where people don’t speak clearly. You are of course not the bad person but, often, as profoundly disabled people, we are made to feel that way. I have had it more often than I could say. Just ugnorant people who dont understand or even want to understand. Have a hug from me Liz, abd know that you are a very very GOOD oerson. Lots lof love to you ❤️❤️❤️Xxx

    1. I do have a badge that shows I am deaf, but people notice my hearing aids too a lately and that’s before wearing ear gear I have worn in the past, that is colourful and shows my hearing aids off, making more visible than the badge does.
      I don’t like wearing my badge out and about and with anxiety at peak, even more so. But even if I wore it just for the checkout, I doubt by that mans face my badge would have done anything. But my ear gear may have done, had I worn those.
      By the way, for those that don’t know what Ear Gear are, its colourful, stretchy fabric that I put over my hearing aids. I have four, in colours of light blue, royal blue, purple and black. I don’t mind wearing my ear gear, I just took a break from them.
      There is the lanyard for disabilities that I think Sainsburys were the original to start with that other stores were encouraged to use this too. But it covers for all disabilities. Again, had I chose that, with my coat zipped up, it’s not going to be visible and I wonder if they have forgotten about it, as I don’t see them advertising that anymore. If they still do, it’s not visible enough.

      I never snapped and remained calm throughout. But the way he was talking sternly, I was worried whether security would come, because between us I felt like a scene was going off for them to.

      Hugs to you.

      1. Oh crikey Liz. Glad it didn’t come to that. But I would have reacted exactly the same. And money – yes, my sister is having the exacy same problem. She diesn’t even have a bank card, abd didn’t ever want ine. She us against them. But now, she has to have one, and she can’t understand them. We are having to try and help her understand over the phone but ut is not working too well. Having lots of outbursts. Life is so hard right now. Xx

      2. My husband fell yesterday under the stress of it all. He became totally exhausted with having to deal with so many things just to survive, looking after me, and trying to get food. It was awful because he normally ebds up in hospital if he falls. We were already at our limit if managing before all of this. Now, we regularly become very distressed. It is almost impossible to cope for us but we have no chouce. He can get no help with his blood sugars either,which is dangerous. I just hope it all ends sooner rather than later. Xx

      3. Sorry to hear that.
        I can’t imagine how exhausting and stressful for both if you, than I know it would be much worser.
        If I was in a position where had to stay home, then I would be more stressed because of the food issue and ordeing online. Xx

      4. Yesterday I just ended up howling for all those people who have lost loved ones and in such awful circumstances. My friend died and cannot even have a funeral. It is truly awful Liz. Take care, as I know you do xx

      5. I know funerals are still allowed. But I don’t know the procedure, as in because of this social distancing. But funerals are still going ahead. They are my way. Its just as in how its being done, as in, is it just the next of kin and no one else in the room, than those conducting a service for example. I don’t know.

      6. Yes the vicar who is doing my friend’s funeral is only able to have the one next of kin there. So sad.

  4. Sending hugs…
    I’m glad you wrote a letter because they could learn from it. I hope your next shopping excursion is better…

    1. Thanks. I will be observing later in a week, if any of these self checkout tills are closed. Seeing if they have made that sign.

  5. I hope they’ll take your feedback into account and by the next time you return to the store they’ll have put better signage in place.

    1. I hope so. Its just a simple signage that would work for me, when I don’t see for looking alternative self checkouts further down and not hearing on top. Let alone even speaking further from a distance to a member of staff, which is downright impossible for me, in the noise and my anxiety brain not allowing me to single out the self checkout from the rows of tills I see.
      It’s like my brain is scrambled.

  6. Oh Liz, I was so sad to read this. In some of the supermarkets we went in yesterday they have someone with a pointer to free tills, and they are only opening every other one, even in the self check out section. The staff are always friendly and helpful though. I think the situation is getting to everyone and this instance was not directed at you, just tired and worried staff on a down moment and not appreciating you were deaf. I am glad you wrote to the store, especially saying it wasn’t a complaint in these difficult times. Hopefully they will have better signage next time you visit. Take care.

    1. I did not even see anyone holding a sign for empty tills. But then they don’t do that there. But with me paying by cash where I was, I was only allowed to use self checkouts. So I couldn’t just go to any till by rights, hence this incident when I thought I could, with not seeing further self checkout tills.

      1. I must admit we don’t have tills specifically for cash here, though one supermarket is taking cash only at the moment, which I saw as a good way to stop people shopping with their credit cards. Like you, we only spend what we know we have available on our account.

      2. When I get paid next month, I will leave money in my account and then use my debit card, using only amount I would spend if I had it in cash, will be the plan, then use any checkout. But this particular supermarket I used today, they have been doing it a week or more now where if you are paying cash, then self checkout only. Debit/credit cards any till.

        I have read somewhere where someone was only accepting cash. But I can’t remember where. I am finding with other places eing different, you can’t keep up.

      3. We’ve found they’ve had a good stock of most of the basic things we buy and cheaper too than the supermarket. Might be worth a look Liz.

      4. Thank you for the suggestion, as I wasn’t aware they are doing cash only. I go in now and again at Herons, but it’s not a place for me for my main shop. I have to go one way or other; cash or card. If I mix it up and do both, I will spend more than I should. If I am going the card route, then there be no chippy for me possibly, as I don’t think they do card. I think it’s just cash. But may be wrong.
        But if I am choosing to do cash only, then its self checkouts only. Its looking how things are going I will be trialing using my card more often, because where I take my prescriptions, they will only expect card payments now and with changes to my income means I start paying for prescriptions now.

      5. Bummer if you have to pay for your meds. It’s the only thing about turning 60 that went in our favour, prescriptions were free, Mind you as mine as post cancer, they would have been free anyway.

      6. My inhalers for asthma is all I will be paying, as hayfever meds I have been buying my own since last year after not being available on the NHS. So my budget will now be accommodating this. While it’s part help for the rest.

      7. Do you find a yearly ‘ticket’ (Pre Payment Certificate) more beneficial? Hubby had to have a minimum of 8 items every month and at £8 a time than, it soon mounted up, so a one off payment of £104 paid for itself in two months. I’ve just looked it up and a PPC for 3 months is £29.65 and for a year £105.90. Would this help?

      8. As I am only on 2 items, which one of them I don’t need every month, it will work out cheaper buying singular. But had my hayfever items been on prescription still, then yes, I would have had a yearly certificate, as I used to do that years ago.

      9. Yes, it’s true not many are aware. It was sugested to me in my 20’s by a pharmacist when she seen the amount of prescriptions I was coming in with. I wouldn’t have known about it, had she not said.
        And I remember one time a few years after doing it that way, advising someone else and they didn’t know how much they could save till I told them.

      10. Do you shop in Lidl? as this is where I go for other food, with it being cheaper than my main one, as I like it in Lidl more than my Heron store. I think I can remember you mentioning Lidl on your blog.
        If you do. Have you been in recently? I am wondering if they are accepting both cash and card payments.

      11. Yes, we have a Lidl here but tonight it was empty of everything we wanted as with only three staff today there was no-one to re-stock shelves. Yes, they are accepting both cash and cards, though preferring card or contactless payments. We also like Aldi but there isn’t one for 20 miles, though apparently plans have been passed to build one here.

      12. You know, after seeing your answer, I realise I meant to say Aldi, as that’s in my area, but Lidl is in next town.
        It be good if you get an Aldi.

      13. We split our shopping between the two as we prefer certain things from each. When we go for our big shop 20 miles away, they have Tesco, Lidl, Morrison and Aldi. Luckily we have the time and means to shop around, but of course it;s not so straightforward now.

      14. I don’t mind to going to two places and odd time to a third. But I just don’t want to be doing that, when I would like my time for something else. Xx

      15. With the basic stuff, we try to keep it to one place. We’ve had to change our method of shopping though as we used to buy for the month then top up weekly. Now we’re buying weekly and just replacing what we use. In a way it’s helping with the food budget as we’re not using what’s in the freezer so much!

      16. Yes. I used to shop monthly one tine then just top up weekly. But that changed a few years ago, when delivery slots went up that it wasn’t worth having a delivery.
        Now, since when I was only in one part time job it stays weekly due to my limited budget, which I have kept it like that, regardless of second job. But it’s a good job I still do this, because if ever I am not in one I don’t have to change what I am doing.
        Plus with this conornavirus, I have a feeling I won’t get paid for time I had to stand down in morning job, until they receive the money they claim that government is giving.

  7. That’s dreadful Liz, It’s hard enough for hearing people trying to navigate big stores and I can imagine your anxiety peaking. I’m guessing by some the comment here, that you’ve written to the store – good on ya!
    I too hate this ‘card only’ malarky. I went to get a coffee for £2.30 and they wanted me to pay cash – i walked out. The next store I visited was IKEA and I’d bought over a hundred pounds worth – I had the cash in my hand and she said ‘sorry, card only.” I really think we should have a choice!
    Caz x

    1. Thanks for your comment Caz.
      Yes, some of these places that are choosing to either do card in one place and another doing only cash, should keep it flexible, because this is adding just more confusion than there needs to be.
      I don’t know about you, but as you know my memory has not been great after last year I had I can’t remember all bits of information that each store is saying that they are doing. So like you, if I find when I go card from next pay day because this looks like it’s going to make things easier for me, then yes, if I come across a place cash only. I will walk out. Just as in vice versa, if I choose cash only because the card did not work out for me after trialing and I find card only, then I will walk out.
      In my eyes, when shops are either going to make it cash only, or card only, then our freedom of choice is being taken away.

      This virus won’t be disappearing anytime soon I don’t think. X

      1. For me, I thinks it’s this Big Brother’ culture, they want to knpw everything about you; how much you spend, where you spend it and how much you spend. Personally, I hate it and don’t think it’s right.

        I too think we’re entitled to freedom of choice, but they’re taking it from us
        Caz x!

      2. Yes. Feels like that Big Brother.
        And for the way shops are choosing how we should pay than keep both options for us, they are helping to take our freedom of choice away.

  8. That was brave of you to write to the store. I hope they do something about the situation. Having hearing loss myself, I understand how interacting with strangers can be frustrating, especially while having to practice social distancing. And actually, my anxiety is so bad that I don’t even go to grocery stores anymore (thankful my husband does the shopping). Like mental health stigma, I’m learning that deafness comes with its own stigma. Also, I’ll have to look into Ear Gear.

    1. Connevans one time sold Ear Gear, but they didn’t have much choice. I believe Connevans still do, but I have not looked for some time with not needing anymore.
      So I bought from original company:

      I live in my own, so only me to shop for. My anxiety will be on high next week with what happened this morning.

      1. I’m hoping so. I am purposely going in tomorrow, just for the sake of it and just get a couple of things.

  9. Sorry you had to go through this, but please do not feel bad, I to have an invisible illness so I know your struggles, and sometimes I come away from a situation feeling upset, although I am not at fault, 90% of my time I’m in a wheelchair and becouse I don’t look ill I get comments aimed at me and yes it’s upsetting and if I’m feeling low can make me very tearful, I need to know when I’m going out so I can plan mentally, but I still get very anxious stepping out of the house. So easier said than done I know but brush it under the carpet tomorrow is a new day., maybe you could make a card stating you are deaf then if you need to speak to someone during this time you could hold it up and alert the staff you are speaking to at a distance x

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment and welcome.
      I do have a card already for that, that I have never used, but as I say, I thought I heard what she said. Speak up doesn’t always work for me at normal distance and so further distance away with noise in their store, still impossible. This is where I would want it writing down.
      I am hoping they will create that sign I suggested for when they close these tills, pointing in direction for next ones. It’s a simple thing that will help me greatly and I don’t need to speak to anyone.
      It certainly made me feel down for the rest of the day yesterday, after it happened. But today, I am ok. 🙂

      1. I’m glad you have awoke in a better frame of mind, The rare few times I have been to one of our nearests Asda there has alway been someone stood with a large arrow on a stick pointing to different tills, so I hope they your suggestion on board, have a great day. x

      2. Yes, I have seen those arrows, that people hold in Tesco, but what I am asking for is a laminated sign hung on the closed self checkout, with an arrow just pointing in direction to next nearest checkouts, not just the next free till. I would have been aware there were more self checkouts, had they done this already, with not being familar and not identifying them from the rows of tills due to my anxiety peaking.

      3. It is a really good idea and I hope they do this for you, I just feel sad that you were put in this situation in the 1st place, but today is another day, please keep us updated if you hear back from the email, due to your comment on my post regarding my cat I thought I would write a little about them, which I’m doing now so I hope it brings you another smile. Have a good day

      4. I ended up writing a letter in the end, as the email does not get monitored anymore. So I wrote directly to the store. They have my email on this letter, so they have a choice to write back, or email.
        I hope to see this in store, as it will help all the time and not just during this virus. I shall keep updated on this if I see, or hear anything to my letter.

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