This deaf mother says she was refused service at Dunkin’ Donuts. Now she uses her story to empower others: ‘Stand up for yourself’

A Dunkin’ Donuts in California reportedly refused to serve a deaf mother. (Photo: Getty Images)

A woman from Encino, California, went viral this week after posting a video on TikTok claiming she was denied the service of Dunkin’ Donuts because she was deaf.

Shannon Heroux, mother of a 2-year-old son, gave an emotional description of what happened as she entered the store that day and encountered staff who were not very accommodating.

“I’ve never been turned down a service before. It hurts,” Heroux said in the video, adding that while she usually wears a cochlear implant to hear better, she wasn’t wearing it at the time, so instead had to rely on lip reading.

She goes on to explain that the employee at the desk allegedly refused to take off her mask so that Heroux could read her lips — and that a manager wouldn’t take off his mask or write on a notepad to attend to her needs — despite repeated attempts. to tell them to them she was deaf and needed extra help.

And according to Heroux, she and the useless manager were separated by plexiglass and stood two meters apart during the exchange.

“I could just tell from his body language and his face that he was going off,” she says in the video, adding that because she speaks so clearly, “I could tell he didn’t believe I’m deaf.”

Since the video went viral, Heroux tells Yahoo Life that Dunkin’ Donuts has since been in touch and has been “very apologetic” while people work there to “handle the situation.”

She also heard from the franchise owner, who offered to “meet up and discuss what happened.”

“We take things like this very seriously,” a Dunkin’ Donuts representative told Yahoo Life. “At Dunkin’, we are committed to creating a welcoming environment and treating every guest with dignity and respect. We have contacted the guest to apologize and are actively working with her to resolve the matter.”

Still, Heroux, who lost her hearing when she was 4 years old, says she decided to share her story with the world not because of her personal pain, but to shed light on the roughly 11.5 million Americans with hearing loss. dealing with similar problems. challenges.

“It’s very important for the world to understand that not every deaf person is equal,” she adds. “By that I mean, there are different stages and different circumstances. Those with cochlear implants or hearing aids have a much greater advantage than the deaf who do not wear a hearing aid or rely only on sign language. It is important that the stigma surrounding the deaf community is corrected. I am a deaf person, who can speak well, hear and communicate very well, and also an incredible lip reader. You would never know I was deaf unless I tell you. If there were no masks today, I could still serve this world deafly, for the benefit of lip-reading would be there and no one would be the wiser.”

The experience at Dunkin’ Donuts, Heroux says, was the final straw after nearly a year of battling similar targeted incidents, including from “rude” managers at restaurants, stores and other outlets. These are the kinds of incidents she says people who are hard of hearing face every day — something she hopes more companies can do something about in the future.

“I believe that Dunkin’ Donuts and any major chain need some training to properly handle situations where communication through masks is impossible,” she explains. “What happened to me was not handled properly and that needs to be corrected. Speech and sound do not effectively pass through the masks. The masks are not going away anytime soon, so extra measures need to be taken to ensure healthy and effective communication.”

According to the CDC, those who deal with people who depend on lip reading should consider wearing a clear mask or a cloth mask with a clear panel. If you can’t get a clear mask, the agency recommends “using written communication, captioning, or reducing background noise to allow for communication while wearing a mask that blocks the lips.”

“My message to the world is that we don’t assume we can hear you,” she says. “It’s not easy being a deaf person who can hear with a cochlear implant, but much harder for those who are deaf and can’t even speak.”

“To my fellow Deaf warriors, stand up for yourself,” she says. “Don’t always rely on someone else to do it for you. You’re your own lawyer, and I know it’s scary in a world without sound. That piece is taken away from us if we are deployed to communicate with a hearing society with an additional disadvantage.”

“When I got the cochlear implant when I was 15, it changed my life,” she adds. “It opened doors I never thought possible. I was able to talk on the phone, speak better, hear the whistle while exercising, understand people without looking at them, the list goes on. In spite of all that, one thing remained the same: I would never hear it again. I would never have biological sound in my life again. I always sat in real silence without a hearing aid. I accepted myself.”

“I like to be deaf. I enjoy having the best of both worlds. I promised myself that I would always do my best and that my deafness will not stop me. Don’t let it stop you. Don’t let it change you, but for the better. This is not something we asked for, but what we were born with. Everyone has their problems, but you are no different. Stand your ground. Speak out.”