Josie Gibson got emotional on Thursday’s This Morning as she discussed her brother’s hearing difficulties and the ‘living hell’ he has experienced during the coronavirus crisis.
The presenter, 35, said that the deaf community has been ‘forgotten’ about during the global pandemic as people are unable to lip read with the use of face masks.
Josie said that she and her brother, Harry, were recently left ‘drained’ after they were kicked out of three restaurants for not wearing a face mask despite being exempt from doing so.
Emotional: Josie Gibson got emotional on Thursday’s This Morning as she discussed her brother’s hearing difficulties and the ‘living hell’ he has experienced during the coronavirus crisis
The Big Brother star said: ‘We are so privileged to still be able to communicate even when we wear a face mask, but imagine going into a shop and being totally cut off from everybody in that shop?’
Josie added: ‘[People with hearing difficulties] not only use lip reading to communicate but they use this whole bottom part [of their face] as expression.
‘So they don’t know when people are trying to talk to them or when people are trying to get their attention, they don’t know how people are feeling, they would not know the emotion of that person because they are so cut off from that person.
‘We are told to wear masks and save lives, but we have forgotten about this community where these masks are making their lives a living hell.’
‘Living hell’: The presenter, 35, said that the deaf community has been ‘forgotten’ about during the global pandemic as people are unable to lip read with the use of face masks (Josie’s brother Harry and his wife pictured)
Talking about a recent ‘draining’ experience she and her brother Harry encountered, Josie said: ‘We went to a restaurant the other day and we kept our distance from the guy that was sitting us down.
‘I was just about to explain that we haven’t got masks on because you’re going to tell me what’s going on and I’m going to tell my brother what’s going on, because he lip reads from me.
‘And they said, ”Well, you’ve not got masks on, you’re going to have to get outside”. I had got the kids with us, it was raining outside… and we thought ”Don’t worry, we’ll go somewhere else”.
Draining: Josie said that she and her brother, Harry, were recently left ‘drained’ after they were kicked out of three restaurants for not wearing a face mask despite being exempt from doing so
‘We went to three places and by the end of it, I was absolutely drained and that was me, imagine what my brother was feeling? Going out and about with their daily lives [he and his wife].’
Josie added that Harry and his wife have been left feeling isolated at their children’s school as they unable to interact with the other parents.
She continued: ‘Even when they take their kids to school, they can’t even have a conversation with the other mums, they don’t know what the person is saying at the check out till in shops.
‘They have no form of communication and these people – the deaf community – have been forgotten about during this pandemic.’
Heartbreaking: Josie added that Harry and his wife have been left feeling isolated at their children’s school as they unable to interact with the other parents (hosts Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes pictured)
Josie said that she was really introduced to the sunflower sign, which is a symbol which can be worn by the deaf community to let people know they are exempt from wearing a face covering.
She said: ‘I met this amazing train manager and she told me about the sunflower lanyard and I didn’t know anything about this, and I said to Harry [her brother] “Why haven’t you got a sunflower lanyard?” and he said that he didn’t know about it.
‘He can’t hear the radio and unless he’s concentrating on subtitles, he’d never know. So when you’re out and about you wear the sunflower lanyard or wristband and people will recognise it, and will stop asking you why you’re not wearing a mask.’
Josie’s brother and wife also made an appearance during the interview via video from their home where they used sign language to discuss their experiences.
Important: Josie said that she was really introduced to the sunflower sign, which is a symbol which can be worn by the deaf community to let people know they are exempt from wearing a face covering
The presenter translated their interview and said: ‘Masks are impacting our life because we can’t communicate with other people. I have to take down my mask and remind people that I am deaf and that I need to lip read.
‘Sometimes they refuse to take their mask down and that’s frustrating for us, and we just have to get on with it but we shouldn’t have to.
‘It’s hard to go out and do things, for example I have to wear a mask to drop my girls off to school and it feels lonely not to be able to have a chat with other mums because we all have to wear masks.
‘Going to the shop I don’t understand staff because they are wearing masks and I can’t tell if they are talking to me.
‘We rely on signing and lip reading, and so it’s difficult for us, we are fed up having to explain ourselves why we aren’t wearing masks and having to explain that we are deaf, and having to explain we are lip reading…’
Talking after her brother’s interview, an emotional Josie said she was ‘so proud’ of her brother and his wife for sharing their experiences.
She said: ‘I’m so proud of my brother and his wife for that because they were so nervous doing that.
‘I really do think the deaf community have been quite forgotten about during this pandemic, and they’ve just given them a voice so I could not be prouder.’
Reaching out: Conservative MP, Alec Shelbrooke, also shared his experiences of struggling during the coronavirus crisis
Conservative MP, Alec Shelbrooke, also shared his experiences of struggling during the coronavirus crisis.
He said: ‘I am not deaf, but I have impaired hearing and in a loud environment I find it very difficult to hear what’s going on.
‘Obviously in the Commons you can’t be lip reading, and I’m no expert at it, but what I’ve discovered is that, subconsciously, you do it a lot.
‘And in the Commons I had my ear down to the microphone speaker and I blinked and that frame was frozen and people said, ”Oh, he’s asleep”. That was really upsetting and it was just a blink, but that’s the rough and tumble of politics.
‘But what’s happened in the pandemic I’ve realised that if I’m not looking at somebody’s lips, I actually find it very hard to hear them.’
Alec added that ‘hidden disabilities really are a big problem’ during the pandemic and that there are times when it’s ‘perfectly acceptable’ to lower your face mask.
Concluding her interview, Josie said: ‘Some have refused to lower their masks and this is why people need to recognise the sunflower lanyards…
‘I can understand people seeing others that haven’t got a mask on and thinking, ”You’re putting my health at risk” but if they just recognised this sunflower as somebody with a hidden disability they might leave them alone.’
She added: ‘You can get these lanyards online. Thank you so much for drawing attention to this as we’ve only just found out about it, so if this helps other people then it’s great.’
This Morning continues on weekdays at 10am on ITV.
Raising awareness: She added: ‘You can get these lanyards online. Thank you so much for drawing attention to this as we’ve only just found out about it, so if this helps other people then it’s great.’
FACE MASK POLICY IN THE UK
Face masks must be worn on public transport and in many indoor spaces, including shops, shopping centres, indoor transport hubs, museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.
It is currently the law for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles, in hospitality venues, like restaurants and bars, other than when you are eating and drinking. Staff in retail and hospitality settings are also legally required to wear face coverings.
If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (halving to £100 if paid within 14 days).
It comes after the World Health Organisation and numerous studies suggested they are beneficial.
As announced, the Government will bring forward changes to mean that for repeat offenders these fines would double at each offence up to a maximum value of £6,400.
The Prime Minister has also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules, meaning there will be consequences for pubs that try to serve you at the bar.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘Individuals, businesses and households all have a responsibility to ensure the virus is suppressed and police will play their part in supporting the public to navigate the measures in place for our safety.
‘Our approach of engaging with people and explaining the regulations in place will remain. The vast majority of situations are resolved following those two stages, with little need for further encouragement or enforcement action to be taken,’ he said.
‘Police will continue to work with their communities and only issue fines as a last resort.
‘Chiefs will be stepping up patrols in high-risk areas and will proactively work with businesses, licensing authorities and local authorities to ensure the rules are being followed.
‘If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to the police, who will consider the most appropriate response and will target the most problematic behaviour.’