As explained in a post, Masks and Communication with Deaf People – What’s the Solution?, many deaf and hard of hearing people are having a hard time communicating with people wearing masks. Sunglasses make it even more difficult in addition to masks. Regardless of whether a deaf person lipreads or uses sign language or both, facial expressions are important for visual communication.
So far the best professional solution that is FDA approved is The Communicator mask by Safe ‘N’ Clear. However, their products are often sold out due to the high demand. Their priority are hospitals and frontline health workers.
That’s why more businesses and individuals are offering solutions – both professional and DYI. Not all of them are medically approved, but may be useful for situations like when communicating with deaf people at a store or in a classroom or at workplace, i.e. where a facial covering is requested.
Below is a list of professional and DYI masks. They are not vouched by this article author for mask quality, safety, or information accuracy.
It’s strongly advised that you speak to a producer about mask details, a medical professional about mask safety, and get feedback from deaf people about mask usefulness.
- Safe ‘N’ Clear (deaf owned business in USA)
- The ClearMask (deaf owned business in USA)
- The Mingle Mask (based in Canada)
- The LEAF by Redcliffe Medical Center (based in USA and under development)
- HelloMask by HMCARE (based in Switzerland and under development)
- Clear Face Masks That Are Fashionable and ASL Friendly by Footwear News (a list of clear masks and face shields)
- How to Make An Accessible, Deaf-Friendly Face Mask by HSDC (an article with step to step instructions)
- DIY reusable face mask with clear window (for the deaf and hard of hearing) by Maison Zizou (YouTube video)
- Breathable Face Mask With Clear Window Visible Expression For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing by Babecloth (sold in different colors)
There are many more clear masks and shields out there that are either on market or under development.
Two major things to consider when creating or using a clear mask in terms of communication are: fog resistance and glare resistance. Otherwise they would be no more useful to deaf people than regular masks. Also, clear face masks and shields only complement but do not replace alternative communication (sign language, writing, etc.)
Stay safe and well!