In line with the guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO), public health officials reiterated the need to wear personal protective equipment when in public. While healthcare workers are instructed to use more gear than the average person, face masks can apparently provide adequate protection. While experts recommend surgical and N95 masks, many types of facial coverings can prove difficult for folks who rely on lip reading for communication. Thankfully, a man from Florida with hearing loss offers a unique solution.
"When you meet someone and let them know you're a 'lip reader,' most of the time it doesn't connect with that person. Other times people will speak louder and slower," said Brian Travers of Coconut Creek, Florida.
The 53-year old reportedly gradually lost his hearing due to a rare genetic disordered called osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) as reported by Fox News. He recounted his personal experience when he visited his daughter's school to secure a laptop to use for education at home.
"I informed each teacher that I was deaf and relied on 'lip reading' to communicate. I asked if they could lower their mask so I could read their lips, but they all declined," recalls Travers. If not for another parent who understood the situation, it would have been impossible for him to get what was needed.
He apparently got the inspiration when he got home and after cutting a hole in the middle of his mask out of frustration. This led him to craft face masks with clear plastic covers for the cutouts to keep the lips visible. Shortly after photos of the items he created were posted online, many contacted him to place orders. Travers claims the project gave him a "sense of fulfilment" amid the pandemic.
Most individuals who suffered from loss of hearing have reportedly adapted to reading the lips of whoever they are talking to. However, the ongoing health crisis makes it difficult for them given that people are encouraged to wear masks. In fact, until a vaccine or cure becomes available, this might be the "new normal" for quite some time.