Republic woman sews accessible masks with vinyl mouth 'window'
The CDC still recommends wearing a mask out in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, but covering your face can cause communication problems for some people.
"Having the mouth and the face available is very important because you know, just in communication," said Stacie Amschler, an independent living specialist with SCIL Empower Abilities.
Amschler said during a time where everyone is covering their faces with masks, it's vital that individuals make it known how they prefer to communicate.
"I am actually an individual that is hard of hearing, so I do lip reading for my every day conversation," she said.
Amschler said her go-to communication tools right now have been technology, like transcription apps, and pen and paper. She said seeing someone's mouth can also provide a way to clarify your emotions beyond just your eyes.
"I think the more that we can do to provide something that would alleviate stress or anxiety in that situation and part of that is being able to communicate and see what's going on," she said. "Seeing a person smile can go a long way."
Rebekah Jones from Republic is working to do just that. Jones quickly started making masks that have a clear vinyl window so you can see a person's mouth.
"We were always saying 'we're in this together,' and in this case we're having to find a way to be able to have all of us in it together," Jones said.
She said the demand came when a local audiologist reached out hoping to make it easier to communicate with her patients.
"She said it's been really, really helpful because for a lot of her patients, it was just really hard for them. The doctors were trying to be safe and protect their patients," Jones said.
But, the masks aren't just helping those here in the Ozarks.
"Colorado, Utah, I think Maryland is the furthest that I've sent it out, Georgia, and Florida," Jones said when recalling where she has shipped masks out.
Jones said if you're worried about your vinyl window fogging up, she does have a few tips for buyers. One tip was to wipe dish soap on the mask window, then wipe it off using a damp towel.
Amschler said she is holding a four-week virtual ASL course for those looking to learn a new way to communicate with individuals in their community.
to learn more about Jones' masks.
for more resources provided by Empower Abilities.