Health

How To Get An Inclusive Face Mask That Helps Deaf People Communicate

You can even learn how to make one yourself.

Just Smile / Justine Bate
Updated: 

In an effort to help those who are deaf or have hearing loss, individuals across the UK are creating inclusive face coverings that feature a transparent layer across the mouth. By making the lips visible, those who rely on lip-reading and seeing facial expressions will still be able to communicate.

On July 24, wearing a face covering became mandatory in shops, supermarkets, banks, and post offices in the UK as well as on public transport. But there's been no clear guidance on how "the twelve million people across the UK who have some sort of hearing loss" will be impacted, as Ayla Ozmen, Head of Research & Policy at charity Action for Hearing Loss explained in a press statement.

“Wearing face masks results in deaf people being cut off from communication in everyday life as well as in critical health care settings,” Philip Gerrard, CEO of Scottish charity Deaf Action recently told the Independent. “We have seen deaf members of staff not being able to understand simple instructions when attending Covid-19 drive through testing facilities, because the care worker is wearing a mask two meteres from the vehicle.”

He continued: “We would like to see the government support the development of PPE approved transparent masks so they are available in care settings as well as in the wider community.”

Thankfully, many creative individuals up and down the country have taken to designing their own inclusive masks with transparent panels to aid communication. Here are some of the places you can buy these masks to help the wider community.

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Helen Botcherby

After being asked to make one by a friend who works as a British Sign Language Interpreter, Helen Botcherby made her inclusive mask by combining fabric and a plastic wallet from Aldi, per ChronicleLive.

"I'm quite creative. I have an embroidery machine and an industry sewing machine as I used to be a machinist in the past," she told the news site. "Pauline got in touch and I thought there must be a way to do it. I'll do anything to help anyone. I'm just over the moon that I can do something to make a difference."

Botcherby has "urged people to get in touch with her if they are need of PPE support" through her Facebook page, where she has also supplied local hospitals with headbands to make their masks more comfortable.

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Sonia Carley

A member of the Salisbury Makers Hub, who provide essential workers with supplies, Sonia Carley taught herself to sew after seeing a request for inclusive masks. "As an engineer I just had the time, there's so much need for it and they look so much better."

While you can't buy a mask from Carley directly, you can access DIY instructions via the Salisbury Makers Hub Facebook group to make your own.

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Maison ZiZou

If you want to have a go at making these yourself, YouTube creator Maison ZiZou has an easy-to-follow tutorial. All you need is the fabric of your choice, two elastic cords, plastic sheet protection, a sewing machine, and a needle and thread.

Whether you're after these inclusive masks for yourself, family members, or the wider community, knowing how to craft these masks is a handy skill to have.