ARIZONA NEWS

Deaf, hard of hearing advocates to give away 30,000 clear masks

Jul 7, 2020, 4:25 AM | Updated: 7:18 pm
(Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Sherri Collins)...
(Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Sherri Collins)
(Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Sherri Collins)

PHOENIX — As face masks become the new normal, they’re now becoming more accessible too.

In May, the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing put out a call to action to local innovators to help create a clear face mask for those who rely so heavily on facial expressions and lip reading.

There were plenty of people who were ready to answer the call.

“I have to say because of [KTAR’s] interview with me, it really got a lot of attention across the nation,” executive director of the commission, Sherri Collins, said. “And some of the people that heard [the] interview contacted us.”

One of the groups that answered the call was ClearMask. The company makes transparent, disposable masks that cover the face without fogging up, keeping the face completely visible.

“It’s flat and it’s light,” Collins explained as she displayed the new mask. “There’s a film that you peel off [the front of the mask] then you just put it on.

“And the other thing I like about this is that you don’t have to wear it behind your ear with a hearing aid or for those with a cochlear implant you can just put [the mask] right over your head.”

Collins said ACDHH was able to order 20,000 of these masks. Plus, the Arizona Association of the Deaf also procured 10,000 clear masks of their own which the commission will help the distribute.

However, this came at a big cost for the commission.

“We purchased the bulk of the masks,” Collins explained, “So 10,000 masks costs about $25,000 and we bought 20,000 which is about $50,000.”

Collins said they used money from their annual budget, but they are hoping the commission will be reimbursed by the state, especially as the governor continues to promote state-wide mask initiatives.

Because of this, they’re limiting quantities to five masks per person.

Collins said these masks aren’t meant just for people who are deaf or hard of hearing but for everyone.

“We want to raise awareness about how having that clear mask will reduce communication barriers,” she said. “First responders could get this, it could be teachers who teach Deaf and hard of hearing children, it could be parents who have deaf and hard of hearing children.”

To get your ClearMask, head to acdhh.org and begin filling out the form.

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Deaf, hard of hearing advocates to give away 30,000 clear masks