Deaf boy, 12, wrote to Boris Johnson pleading for clear face masks

Deaf boy, 12, who received letter from Boris Johnson after pleading for see-through face masks is praised by This Morning viewers after admitting it’s ‘sad and lonely’ when he can’t lip read what people are saying

  • Austin Goddard, 12, West Sussex, is campaigning for use of clear face coverings
  • Explained how lipreading is difficult when people are wearing normal masks
  • He wrote to Boris Johnson and sent video message campaigning for clear masks
  • Praised after ITV appearance for raising awareness of ‘hugely important subject’

A deaf schoolboy has been praised after writing to Boris Johnson pleading for clear face masks to be used so those who rely on lipreading are able to communicate. 

Austin Goddard, 12, from Lancing, West Sussex, wrote a letter and sent a video message to the Prime Minister, explaining that it made him feel ‘sad and lonely’ being unable to communicate with others. 

After receiving a letter back from Downing Street, telling him the government would look at what adjustments can be made to help people who communicate through lipreading, he has continued to raise awareness of the issue.  

Austin was praised following an appearance on This Morning today, with viewers pleased he was drawing attention to a ‘hugely important subject’, agreeing that masks should be made ‘clearer and more accessible for the deaf community’.

Austin Goddard, 12, from Lancing, West Sussex, appeared on This Morning today with his mother Justine 

‘Hugely important subject,’ wrote one. ‘Couldn’t agree with him more. Can’t imagine how awkward a hard of hearing/deaf person would feel in a group of face masks. Backing this all the way.’ 

Another said: ‘Well done Austin! Also, Teaching Sign language/ Makaton should be mandatory in all schools! It is such an essential way of communicating for so many people we should all learn!!’ 

A third agreed: ‘What a beautiful speech Austin. Yes masks should be made clearer and more accessible for the deaf community. There normal life is being put on hold by something that we don’t take for granted for the deaf community communication is everything.’ 

Austin appeared with mother Justine, who said that the response to her son’s campaign has been ‘amazing’, and that she’s glad he’s raising awareness of ‘something we take for granted everyday’. 

The deaf schoolboy wrote a letter and sent a video message to the Prime Minister, saying it made him feel ‘sad and lonely’ being unable to communicate with others

He was praised following the appearance with viewers pleased he was drawing attention to a ‘hugely important subject’ and masks should be made ‘clearer and more accessible for the deaf community’

‘Even if you’re hearing you lose the smile, which can speak a thousand words to anyone whether you’re hearing or deaf. It was really, really hard,’ she said. 

‘He did write to Boris and the response has been amazing, he did an online petition and the amount of people who have signed it.’  

She went on: ‘Everybody is really proud. Very proud. In the first lockdown he didn’t do any homework whatsoever, but wrote this amazing letter to Boris Johnson so we’re super proud of that.

‘The response we’ve had from deaf or hearing people is amazing because it’s something we take for granted everyday. You see someone with hearing aids and think it’s a fix and it totally isn’t, there’s still lots of ways to communicate.’ 

The mother went on to say that homeschooling has been particularly difficult for Austin, and that she’s heard stories from other parents of deaf children about unaccommodating schools. 

After his letter (pictured) Austin received a reply from Downing Street, telling him the government would look at what adjustments can be made to help people who communicate through lipreading

Austin’s mother said that the response to her son’s campaign has been ‘amazing’, and that she’s glad he’s raising awareness of ‘something we take for granted everyday’

‘The online learning has been exceptionally hard for deaf children’, she said. 

‘We’ve had some parents contact us saying that some schools haven’t done subtitles because it’s too distracting for the other children, which is not really very acceptable at all.’ 

Speaking of the campaign, she went on: ‘It’s given Austin the confidence to openly ask the person to remove the mask, because he is deaf and the government allow it to be removed for lip reading.’ 

Justine said that ‘nine times out of ten’ Austin is met with a positive response when he asks people to remove their face masks, but added that not all deaf people are able to travel with someone who is able to verbally communicate.  

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