Unique face mask created as solution for the hearing impaired
BARRIE -- As face masks become more of a necessity in our daily lives, some communities find the protection to be an added challenge.
Linda Parkes says face masks aren't practical for the hearing impaired who need to read the lips of caregivers.
"If they read lips, they'll be able to see what they're saying. How can you read if you're wearing a regular mask," says Parkes.
In her search for a solution, Parkes checked social media for ideas and stumbled across The Como Foundation.
The foundation was created by Massimo Cucchiella and his wife, Sarah, when his construction company was put on hold during the pandemic.
The duo wanted to do something to help others and came up with creating personal protective equipment (PPE).
"The work that they do, and the time they put in, and they hand-deliver to nursing homes and anybody that's a front-line worker," explains Parkes. "And they don't charge anything. It's quite amazing."
The foundation operates with volunteers and donations and created a unique face mask for the hearing impaired.
"I'm happy we were able to do something for this part of the community," says Cucchiella.
The masks are created from 100 per cent cotton, with a clear vinyl insert over the mouth to make lip-reading possible.
According to Sarah, once the masks are finished, they put a small amount of dawn dish soap to keep them from fogging up.
Since the Bob Rumball Home for the Deaf in Barrie uses American Sign Language, they rely heavily on facial expressions and lip movements, making these unique face masks so necessary.
"In sign language, people aren't able to see facial expressions, so they don't know if someone is happy or sad, because that you see from expression," explains Shirley Cassel, administrator at the Bob Rumball home.
"The lip-reading, being able to catch some of the words, our older residents depend on that," she adds.
The Como Foundation say they are willing and ready to make the face masks for the hearing impaired as requested.
They also create other PPE, such as scrub caps and garments, in an initiative to reach as many people as possible.