Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
A woman with serious hearing loss is developing this see-through face mask so that deaf people can read people’s lips during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anissa Mekrabech, 30, came up with the idea for the mask when earlier this month she went to a pharmacy in France but could not easily communicate with the pharmacists.
She said: “I went to the pharmacy to buy medicine. I gave the prescription to the pharmacist and I stepped back to respect the (one-metre) markings on the floor.
“There were three employees. All three were wearing surgical masks. At one point, the pharmacist asked me a question, unfortunately, I could not read her lips (I have bilateral hearing loss).
“So I explained to her that I am deaf and that I usually read lips but that with the masks I couldn’t. I had to wear a surgical mask. She made an effort to speak up, which I greatly appreciated.”
Anissa said while “after confinement, we may all be forced” to wear masks, “this kind of situation causes stress, withdrawal and social exclusion”.
So she decided to create a prototype a mask to help the deaf. According to local media, the prototype consists of two strips of cotton wrapped around a piece of acetate, and Mekrabech is looking to raise 5,000 EUR (4,378 GBP) to improve and develop it.
Reports say she wants to solve, “perhaps by heat welding”, the problem of transverse seams, which can reduce the filtering capacity of the mask.
On her website, she says: “The mask is my obsession, for me, it is instinctive to read lips, to be deprived of it is completely disorienting.
“Your lips are my ears if you hide them I can’t understand you.”
Her initiative, launched on 9th April, has raised 360 EUR (315 GBP) so far. She has pledged to reimburse the contributors if the project does not get off the ground.
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