Transparent coronavirus masks to help the hearing-impaired: TN launches pilot project

Transparent coronavirus masks to help the hearing-impaired: TN launches pilot project

Masks -- from the simple cloth-based type to designer face covers -- are the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic. But what about the hearing-impaired, who depend on lip-reading to communicate?

To help them, the Tamil Nadu government has joined hands with mask makers for a pilot project: manufacturing and distributing reusable cloth masks with a transparent polypropylene base that goes over the lips.

The masks are meant for those interacting with hearing-impaired individuals. If the project is a success, it will be scaled up.

"This is a pilot project with people roped in from Tirupur," said Johny Varghese, Director for the Welfare of the Differently Abled in the Tamil Nadu government, adding that as many as 13,500 people have been identified for the initiative.

These include family members and teachers of hearing-impaired individuals, he said.

"When we were interacting with hearing-impaired people, we found it was difficult for them to communicate as they couldn't read lips," said AG Padmanabhan, a Tirupur-based mask manufacturer who is working with state authorities.

"A group of youngsters created transparent masks so that they could read the lips of people communicating with them," he said.

A committee will look into issues like fogging and take decisions about the next model, said Johny Varghese.