Accessibility links

Breaking News

Thai Factory Makes COVID Masks for Hearing Impaired

FILE - A fabric and plastic see-through mask for the hearing and speech impaired, manufactured in a factory in Italy, is pictured April 22, 2020. A factory in Thailand that employs people with disabilities has begun making similar masks.

A factory in Thailand that employs people with disabilities has designed and produced a special face mask for the hearing impaired to allow them to lip read while offering coronavirus protection.

The facility is run by Thailand's Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, which provides job opportunities for people with various sorts of impairments.

The factory has been producing face masks since early last year and began branching out about two weeks ago into transparent masks and personal protective equipment suits.

The chief of education for the facility, Patcharin Silparasmee, tells the French news agency, AFP, that they developed the masks to help people with hearing loss and also sign language translators who had trouble communicating while wearing masks.

The design features a plastic "window" in the traditional mask that allow the wearer's mouth to be seen. Silparasmee said they had to adjust their original design because they found a person's breath often clouded the window, a problem they fixed by reducing the size of the plastic opening.

But since then, the response to the product has been positive. The Bangkok Post reports they are being marketed and sold primarily through a special Facebook page aimed at Thailand's 382,000 hearing impaired people.