Shannon Heroux, 32, shared in two videos on her @shannon_heroux TikTok account how an employee and a manager refused to pull down their masks so that she could lip-read as they didn’t believe she was deaf.
“I’ve never been refused service before, and it hurts. It hurts really bad. Dunkin’ Donuts is my favourite place to go,” she said in the first of two videos about the incident, which had garnered almost seven million views as of Friday afternoon.
Ms Heroux said she has a cochlear implant – an electronic device that stimulates the hearing nerve – but that she wasn’t wearing it at the time.
She said she asked a female Dunkin’ Donuts worker to come over, and that she told the employee to remove her mask so that she would be able to read her lips in order to understand her.
“I’m an Uber driver, so I got a ride and I was like, ‘Hey, I have to order my drink. I have to go,’” she said. “The manager comes over and I could just tell by his body language, his face, he was going off.”
Ms Heroux said the manager waved his hands in front of her face but she couldn’t read his lips because of the mask.
“I kept saying, ‘I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you. I need to lip read.’ He refused to write anything down. He refused to pull his mask down,” she added, noting that they were six feet apart and separated by plexiglass because of the pandemic precautions in place.
“I’m wearing my mask. Like, what more do you want from us?” she added.
She said the deaf community have struggled “so much during this pandemic. Enough is enough. People don’t believe I’m deaf, and I could sense and feel from him that he didn’t believe me. He didn’t believe I was deaf because I speak so well. It’s a blessing and a curse”.
She said in a second video that she had had similar experiences at other places during the pandemic.
“I shouldn’t have to go through this. No deaf person should have to go through this. I’m at my breaking point in this pandemic where I just don’t ever want to listen to anybody anymore,” she said.
“I’ve been discriminated this entire pandemic, and it’s about time someone does something. Target, Costco, the grocery store, Walmart, now Dunkin’, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough,” she added.
“We do the right thing and you guys don’t care. You kick me out for wanting to get a peach passion fruit tea. Like, really? Something needs to change,” she said. “I’ve never felt this way, and I don’t wish this upon anyone.”
She said in a third video that she has been in touch with Dunkin’ Donuts’ corporate offices.
“The general manager at that location also wants me to go in to get my apology and take care of my order, and I felt that wasn’t going to be enough,” she said. “So, that’s why I reached [out to] corporate in the first place.”
“You know, it’s just important that change gets made. I stand up for the deaf community. I’m just really happy I spread awareness. I am happy I reached all of you,” she told her viewers.
In a statement to The Independent, Dunkin’ Donuts said: “We take matters like this very seriously. 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 we are actively working with her to resolve the matter.”