SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Wearing face coverings is something we’ve had to get used to as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the masks make it difficult to communicate.
Suffolk resident Rachel Milota has three children. Her youngest son, Asher, was born deaf.
“Even though we give him sign language, he has technology, he does still rely on seeing our face,” said Rachel Milota.
As her family learned sign language and more about the hearing impaired community, they’ve realized face masks can make communication incredibly difficult. That’s why she started sewing “clear view” masks to help.
“I think it’s something when you’re a hearing person, you don’t necessarily think about how communication is challenging for someone who would need to see your face,” Milota said.
When the pandemic started, Milota started making cloth masks. It didn’t take long for her to realize she could adapt them to help people with hearing loss, creating a clear view of someone’s mouth.
Milota said, “You can see those facial movements and expressions. Some people do rely on lip reading, but also in American Sign Language, the facial expressions are what help formulate the language and give context and meaning to the language, so it’s really important that people can see those faces.”
Milota has mailed these masks to hospitals, day cares, nursing homes, and schools across the country.
She says recipients are grateful.
“A lot of people have felt that it re-engages that human factor of seeing people’s faces and emotion,” Milota said.
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