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Woman wearing a ‘just deaf not rude mask’ is mocked by Delta flight attendant

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Paramedic, 43, wearing a ‘just deaf not rude mask’ is mocked by a Delta flight attendant while boarding the plane

  • Kelli Adrienne Duncan, 43, was flying from Tampa to Hartford, Connecticut, with a friend
  • She wore a mask to let airline staff and other passengers know she was deaf 
  • Duncan said she has had trouble since the pandemic began and struggles with communicating to people that she is deaf
  • A flight attendant saw her mask and, behind her back, quipped ‘are you really deaf?’ 
  • Duncan’s friend heard her, ushered her along to her seat then told her what happened later  
  • Delta apologized to the woman after her sister tweeted about the incident  

By Jennifer Smith For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

A deaf woman wearing a ‘just deaf not rude’ mask was mocked by a Delta flight attendant after boarding the plane earlier this month.

Kelli Adrienne Duncan, 43, was flying from Tampa to Hartford, Connecticut, with a friend earlier this month when the incident occurred. 

The paramedic is deaf and wore the mask as a lighthearted way of informing staff and other passengers. 

But as she boarded the plane, the friend accompanying her heard a flight attendant saying behind her back: ‘Are you really deaf?’

Kelli Adrienne Duncan, 43, was flying from Tampa to Hartford, Connecticut, with a friend earlier this month, wearing this mask to inform people she is deaf

‘I wanted to make sure that my best friend and I sat together and since it was a double aisle flight, I needed assistance from one of the attendants. 

‘As my friend was looking to see which aisle we should go down, she heard the flight attendant who was behind me rudely say,  “are you really deaf?”‘ Duncan told Yahoo.  

Duncan’s friend turned back to tell the flight attendant that she was dead, then ushered her along the aisle. 

After the flight, Duncan told her sister, an ESPN journalist, about the incident. She complained on Twitter and received an apology from the airline.

‘Wow Delta. I’m so disappointed that my deaf sister wearing THIS mask on your flight was greeted by a flight attendant who said with disgust in her voice “Are you REALLY deaf” as my sister struggled to understand her b/c of her mask. 

‘We mocking disabilities now? Not ok.’   

Duncan’s sister, ESPN journalist Elle Duncan, tweeted angrily about the incident

Duncan said she has trouble communicating with people in the pandemic because of the masks which make it impossible to lipread

Duncan said she was glad to have had a friend with her to speak on her behalf. 

‘I was very glad that my best friend was there because I usually travel alone and frequently struggle with communication due to the masks. 

‘I was very hurt to know someone would insult a disabled person who has had to deal with this my whole life,’ she said. 

Delta did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s inquiries on Monday morning. 

The incident is the latest in a string of mask-related debacles on airplanes.  

Unlike in Duncan’s case, most other incidents revolve around passengers refusing to wear masks despite COVID-19 advice and airline rules.  

The flight attendant involved has not been named.  

Delta apologized to the woman after her sister tweeted about the incident (file image) 

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