While wearing masks has become a new norm that limits the spread of Covid-19, it has come to be a problem for some people.
With the masks covering up almost 50% of a person’s face, those that rely on reading lips to communicate are having difficulties doing so. These are often those with hearing disabilities.
Jessica Cournoyer, born deaf, recalls that the only reason she knew what her nurse was telling her to do was because of a see-through face mask the nurse was wearing. Jessica was in labor with her second child and could read her nurse’s lips thanks to a clear face mask custom made by a volunteer in North Carolina.
The volunteer that made the mask for Jessica is an elementary school music teacher. She started making masks in hopes to get other people to wear them more often. She is even thinking about using a clear mask herself so that she can smile at her students.
She cuts a hole out of a regular cloth mask and uses a Mylar plastic to create the clear panel. The Mylar repels moisture and is very durable.
In July of 2020, the CDC, Center for Disease Control, stated that face masks are one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of Covid-19. But they hide and obscure facial expressions that are tools for communicating with others. Along with being a hinderance to those who use lip reading to communicate.
The hearing disabled aren’t the only ones who prefer transparent face masks either. Teachers and those who work with the elderly or children find them quite useful too.
Many people have taken to using the clear face shields for these purposes. The problem here lies with the fact that these shields are open at the bottom. This makes them less effective than cloth masks.
Finding a suitable face mask with a clear panel was not something easily done. However, many vendors or crafters that sell special products can be found on Etsy.com. A site where independent creators make and sell their unique products.
In knowing that a big part of communicating with children relies on facial expressions, Aaron Hsu, creator and CEO of ClearMask has earned FDA clearance for their mask, that comes with a clear panel, to be a medical-grade surgical mask.
According to Hsu, it took three years to come up with a transparent material that won’t fog up while in use.
With a minimum purchase order of 24 masks for $67 dollars, the demand for this mask is rising. From hospitals and commercial clients, to factory workers and interpreters, the need for a mask like this is becoming more and more evident.
Vanderbilt’s director of infectious disease, David Aronoff, states that any face covering, whether handmade or mass produced, of this type is sure to help the situations.
Since the virus cannot go through solid materials, utilizing a clear panel in a face mask is a good way to prevent the spread of the virus and still allow us to see each other’s face. The key point is to get everybody to wear a mask, no matter what it looks like.