Victoria McGill, left, of Royal Oak, and her 7-month-old labradoodle, Biscuit, stand beside Ellen Marshall, who coaches at Trainers Academy in Troy. Marshall wears a see-through face mask in order to help McGill lip-read.

Victoria McGill, left, of Royal Oak, and her 7-month-old labradoodle, Biscuit, stand beside Ellen Marshall, who coaches at Trainers Academy in Troy. Marshall wears a see-through face mask in order to help McGill lip-read.

Photo by Deb Jacques


See-through masks help local hearing-impaired woman

By: Eric Czarnik | Troy Times | Published October 27, 2020

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TROY — Victoria McGill has long visited Trainers Academy in Troy to train her pooches. Recently she took her third dog, a labradoodle named Biscuit, there for an intermediate-level class.

But she said the exercise at first was more difficult for her. That’s because in the age of COVID-19, face masks are the norm, and she understands people by reading lips.

“I am hearing impaired,” she said. “I wear hearing aids and cannot hear without them. Since COVID-19, everybody is now wearing a mask; it’s hard for me to understand people. I rely on lip reading to help me with my hearing aids.”

On the first day of dog training, she said, she initially told the instructors not to worry because this is her third dog, and she could learn by watching. But when she came back next time, the staff had a surprise.

“The next week, I walk into class and the instructors had purchased face masks with the clear plastic over their mouths to help me with lip reading,” McGill said. “It’s not perfect, but what a difference.”

She said gestures of kindness such as this “go above and beyond.” She added that the small things in life “make the difference in this chaotic world.”

Trainers Academy President Lisa Patrona said in an email that the special face masks were available online at ShowMySmile.com.

“Ellen Marshall, a long-time volunteer training coach in our classes, wanted to be helpful to Vicki so she would be able to read lips for instruction,” Patrona said.

“Ellen, the class instructor, Sue, and the entire staff of Trainers Academy LLC are very happy to have been helpful to Ms. McGill.”

McGill, 66, who lives in Royal Oak and manages a travel agency, said she wishes that more businesses’ workers would wear clear face masks or face shields. When she is at the grocery store register, she often has to point to her hearing aid to let others know about her condition, she said. Most of the time, the workers understand.

“They’re really nice,” she said. “Most of them will sort of pull down their masks, or they project their voice, and that helps too.”

In the meantime, McGill said she looks forward to continuing to train Biscuit at obedience school.

“She’s pretty good,” McGill added. “She’s just like her mother. It’s genetic.”

Find out more about Trainers Academy LLC by visiting www.woofology.com.

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