With a rise in the number of coronavirus cases globally, face masks considered as simple and an effective way to reduce the transmission of the virus has become an important part of one's physical self with governments resorting to extending legal implications on not wearing masks in public places.
However, face masks have become a constant struggle for the deaf and hard of hearing.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 5% of the world's population or a staggering 466 million people has disabling hearing loss includes which 432 million adults and 34 million children.
Deaf people mostly have profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing. They often use sign language or lip-read to communicate and the opaque ones are a barrier obstructing visual communication.
Exclusion from communication can reportedly have a significant impact on everyday life, causing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and frustration, particularly among older people with hearing loss.
Keeping such challenges into consideration, an American teen actor has designed a transparent face mask that allows deaf people to lip read and also stay protected against the deadly coronavirus at the same time.
Millie Simonds partnered with fair-trade fashion brand Rafi Nova to design the 'Millie Smile Mask' which is like a regular face mask, the covering protects the nose and mouth, but it has a transparent window that allows people to see the lips of the person wearing it.
The 17-year-old actress pointed out that such masks aren't solely designed to be worn by the deaf and hard of hearing communities since it was other people's lips they need to see in order to communicate.
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Excited to have partnered up with @rafinova_go to bring you the Millie mask! This mask has a clear plastic covering for the deaf and hard of hearing communities. 100% of the profits benefit @deafwomenofcolor and Texas Hands and Voices to raise funds for Black Lives Matter and families with deaf children. 🤟🏻❤️ link in my bio to purchase!
"The hearing community are the ones we really need wearing the masks because, like I mentioned, a lot of deaf individuals are the ones that rely so much on lip reading and expression.
It would help to have these masks everywhere. Hospitals, grocery stores, nursing homes etc… There are over 400 million deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide! That's a lot of us," said Millie, reported Unilad.
According to reports, face masks are designed by both Millie and a speech-language pathology clinical fellow and all the money earned from the sale of the masks will be donated to the nonprofit organisation Deaf Women of Color, and Loving Hands and Hearts.