The problem is masks cover the mouth and the nose area, obscuring visual signs that are otherwise essential for deaf people communicating with others
Aware of this issue, Dwi Rahayu Februarti has taken it upon herself to come up with a transparent mask design that aims to make communication a little easier for deaf people during the current health crisis.
The 41-year-old resident of Sinduadi village, Mlati district in Sleman regency in Yogyakarta said the need for masks that allowed others to see lip movements had become increasingly urgent.
“It’s especially worrying since [conventional masks] limit our ability to communicate,” Dwi told The Jakarta Post on Monday. “We often face difficulties speaking with doctors because they also wear conventional masks.”
Dwi, who is head of the local chapter of the Movement for Indonesian Deaf People’s Welfare (Gerkatin), said her design for a transparent facemask was inspired by a similar idea shared by National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) official Bahrul Fuad on Facebook.
Her mask design, which replaces the middle section with transparent plastic, is expected to help deaf people to communicate more naturally as it allows them to lip-read.
The current design has been constantly improved upon feedback from fellow deaf people in her community. The transparent part of the mask, for instance, has been slightly curved to leave ample breathing room for its user, she said.
Although Dwi has yet to establish any production targets, she said the demand for the transparent mask was high. She hoped that the design would gain mainstream adoption.
“I plan to record a video on how to produce the transparent mask so that other members of Gerkatin may be able to make their own masks,” Dwi said, adding that her masks had been positively received by the local deaf community.