Winnipeg woman creates clear face masks for people experiencing hearing loss

Face masks have become a common voluntary practice for many, as people work to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But Winnipegger Marnie Houston quickly realized the face coverings aren’t practical for people who rely on reading lips.

She logged on to Facebook and discovered many people felt the same way.

“I started reading about the difficulties they, too, were getting from wearing masks and I realized there needed to be something better for people like ourselves.”

Houston, who was born with a hearing loss, decided to alter the way face masks are typically made and create face masks with a window.

With a needle and some thread, she’s started stitching together see-through masks.

A window face mask made by Marnie Houston.
A window face mask made by Marnie Houston. Marnie Houston / Submitted

“There are people in the industry of service, physiotherapists, chiropractors, dentists,” explaining who would benefit from the masks amid COVID-19.

“I knew there was a huge area that needed to be addressed.”

She started making the coverings in June and says requests have poured in, shipping them outside of the province to Toronto and Ottawa, even the United States.

She believes the masks are popular even beyond people who have hearing loss.

Read more: Will homemade masks protect us from the coronavirus?

“It’s really important for me and people like me who have hearing loss and need to lip-read, and people who have disabilities and even children to be able to see expression on their daycare workers’ face.”

The tie strings on the mask are also made differently, as Houston says they sit higher on the back of a person’s head to not interfere or irritate someone who may have a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

Read more: Manitoba mom sews handmade face masks amid coronavirus pandemic

Houston says she’s donated masks to multiple hearing specialists in Winnipeg in hopes of showing the importance of the see-through material.

She says it takes her about 20 minutes to stitch together the window masks and is selling them locally in Winnipeg and Canada.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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