News & Politics

Deaf Woman Terrorized by Mask-Obsessed Store Clerks After Asking to Read Their Lips

(TikTok screenshot)

Shannon Heroux is a fun-loving mom on Instagram who posts about her child, hiking, and her family. She’s also deaf. The deaf community has suffered a great deal during COVID restrictions as one of their main ways of understanding the world around them, lip-reading, has been taken away with mass masking. Heroux posted her first videos on TikTok after she says she reached a breaking point with the discrimination she has suffered for almost two years.

“I am at my breaking point in this pandemic,” she said. Heroux is an Uber driver and went into her favorite Dunkin’ Donuts store to get an iced tea in Encino, California. When she tried to order her drink, she asked the employee to take down her mask so she could read her lips, informing her that she is deaf. Heroux says she wears a cochlear implant but did not have it on that day and could hear nothing. Instead of giving reasonable accommodations to Heroux, like pulling down her mask or writing down her words, the staff member continued talking behind her mask while Heroux heard nothing.

“I was so confused,” Heroux said. “She called the manager… I could tell by his face and body language that he was going off and kept [gesturing to his face] and I kept saying ‘I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!'” she said. “He refused to write anything down… we were six feet apart through the plexiglass,” she said. “What more do you want? We’ve struggled so much through this pandemic,” Heroux said, referring to deaf people. “He didn’t believe me,” she said sobbing. “He didn’t believe that I was deaf because I speak so well. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Heroux’s two videos have over 2 million views and she says that Dunkin’ Donuts corporate has reached out and told her they would have a solution by Friday. The general manager of the store wanted Heroux to come in for an apology and to get her the order she wanted, but Heroux says that’s not good enough.

“No deaf person should have to go through this,” she said. “I’ve been discriminated [against during] this whole pandemic. Target, Costco, the grocery store… I’ve had enough.” Heroux continued insisting that the deaf community needs to see serious changes. “Something needs to change,” she said. “What that manager did was wrong.” Even worse, Heroux says the people standing in line did nothing to come to her aid.

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People, do better. Do not allow the mask Nazis to treat Americans with disabilities like this in front of you. This should never happen again. Look out for your neighbors who are hearing impaired. A hearing person could have easily stepped in and pulled his mask down and translated for this woman instead of allowing her to be terrorized over a misunderstanding. I’m ashamed of the people in line more than the people in the store. Store clerks are all on a power trip since they’ve been given the power to control their customers with COVID regulations, but the rest of us have no excuse. Stand up for your neighbors in need. Is everyone in California a COVID-panicked jerk? (Maybe that is the case, considering how the recall went.)

My dad raised me differently than this. In fact, if my dad had been there this would not have happened without consequence. I wish my dad had been in that coffee shop. It’s a certainty that if he had been, Mr. Manager wouldn’t have denied anyone anything because a very large angry man would have made sure he didn’t. There’s a time for everything under the sun, and when a person with disabilities is being terrorized by small tyrants, it’s time to act with immediate outrage.

PJ Media reached out to Dunkin’ Donuts corporate to ask how they will ensure that this never happens again in one of their stores. They did not respond. If they do, we will update our coverage.