Deaf triplets navigate communication barriers during pandemic

Summarized by Holly Gerber, Staff Writer

Deaf triplets Craig, Curt, and Chris Kuhn share what it’s like navigating the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kuhns are learning how to cope with communication barriers arising from the pandemic. Curt uses texting, writing, and signing to communicate since face masks inhibit lip-reading. Craig uses video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom. These platforms allow sign language users to communicate, especially children who may not be in a family with fluent signers.

The brothers’ greatest challenge is getting up-to-date information about the pandemic. While some deaf and hard of hearing individuals prefer reading captions, others prefer American Sign Language interpreters. However, interpreters are not always present during every briefing. People who prefer captioning are struggling too, with a lag between the time a briefing happens and when captions are added later on. These inconsistencies make it difficult for deaf individuals like the Kuhns to access current health information.

While some communication challenges are not yet resolved, the brothers agree that the deaf and hard of hearing community—and the hearing community—need to be patient and work together.

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