Hearing-impaired man makes special masks with window to allow for lip reading

COCONUT CREEK, FLA. (WSVN) - One South Florida man has come up with a way to help those with hearing impairments protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Brian Travers was born with a genetic defect, and he’s lived with severe hearing loss for over 30 years.

That prompted him to make a special mask that can allow people to read other people’s lips without them being exposed.

“I’ve been making masks everyday from orders that we get in from around the country, even around the world,” Travers said. “Two days ago, I sent a shipment out to Ireland. I’m a lip reader. ‘Could you lower your mask, so I can understand what you’re asking me?’ I cut a hole, put it on a table and looked at it, and then I just started thinking, ‘What if I just put a small piece of plastic in there?”’

Travers heard his wife’s voice for the first time with a cochlear implant on his right ear.

Dr. Brianna Kinney, an audiologist, said, “He’s doing really well. It takes a little bit of time to get used to hearing with an implant because it’s so different from anything we’re used to. An implant allows us to hear using an electrical signal rather than an acoustic signal like we would naturally or with hearing aids, so I think he’s taking the time to learn all these sounds, relearn these sounds that are in his environment.”

The word of the masks have spread on social media worldwide.

Travers said, “Then it was just trial and error. I was making different patterns, making different shapes of the plastic. I have about 35 or 40 black masks up there, so I can see the design.”

Travers and his wife’s next phase is to make special masks for children.

Sixty have been sent around the world so far with hundreds more ordered.

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