Woman develops special protective masks for those who can’t hear

 (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Making lip reading accessible amid the coronavirus pandemic is her objective.

A woman who lost her hearing is developing a see-through face mask to allow deaf people lip read as usual during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anissa Mekrabech (30) from Toulouse in southern France came up with the idea for the mask when she went to a pharmacy but couldn’t easily communicate with the pharmacists.

"I gave the prescription to the pharmacist and stepped back to respect the (one-metre) markings on the floor,” said Anissa, who is a leather worker.

"There were three employees. All three were wearing surgical masks. At one point, the pharmacist asked me a question. Unfortunately I couldn’t read her lips.

"I explained to her that I’m deaf and that I usually read lips but that with the masks I couldn't. I had to wear a surgical mask. She made an effort to speak up, which I greatly appreciated."

The incident inspired Anissa to create a prototype mask to help the deaf.

It consists of two strips of cotton wrapped around a piece of acetate.

She’s looking to raise 5 000 euros (about R100 000) via crowdfunding to improve and develop it.

"The mask is my obsession. For me it’s instinctive to read lips, to be deprived of it is completely disorienting,” she wrote on her website.

"Your lips are my ears, if you hide them I can't understand you."

Her initiative has raised 360 euros (about R7 120) so far and she’s pledged to reimburse contributors if the project doesn’t get off the ground.




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