Clear face coverings make big impact for hard-of-hearing manager

When Dennis Parry learned that Best Buy would require face coverings for employees as a safety measure during COVID-19, he grew concerned.

Dennis is hard of hearing, and as a general manager, he relies on reading lips to communicate with employees and customers at his store in Easton, Pennsylvania. Face coverings would make that impossible.

“When I first heard about the change, I felt like I was going to be a hindrance to the team,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I’d be able to communicate with my staff.”

Company leaders quickly jumped into action to find a solution that would meet Dennis’ needs while still ensuring the safety of our employees and customers.

“As soon as I saw the request, I connected with Dennis.” said Shannon Albu, senior manager of field brand strategy. “I told him that his simple request would inspire a completely new perspective, and no matter what it takes, we’d find a way for him to feel connected and have the ability to communicate.”

Shannon started researching solutions, but found that everything needed to accommodate this request was either sold out or on backorder. After some additional research, she learned that others were making a clear window by using vinyl to fill a cutout in the face covering.

Shannon reached out to employee volunteers who already had been sewing face coverings for employees across the country. Sarah Cox, retail operations associate director, graciously offered to make the first batch of masks with the vinyl cutout to send to Dennis and his employees.

The homemade face coverings were shipped to Dennis’ store just a few days after the initial request. And it immediately made it easier for him to communicate with his team. 

“While I wear hearing aids, I rely on the ability to see people’s lips to communicate,” he said. “The masks help me be a leader who works side by side with his staff.”

Dennis’ district manager, Johnny Arias, also was moved by the company’s response.

“Dennis is an incredible manager who cares deeply about people,” Johnny said. “He’s actively engaged in the community and is always looking to make a difference for others who are hard of hearing. I’m proud that Best Buy has his back.”

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