• Suzie Vazquez

The story behind Lip Reading Masks



During the Covid-19 pandemic I felt a drive to be a helper. I remembered the Mister Rogers quote that mentions that in times of difficulty to look for the helpers. I shared this view with my son, and we are trying to do our best to be mindful and look for ways to help others during this time. I began sewing masks to help friends and family in March. I donated more masks to our local grocery store, post office and to the Navajo Nation. I listened to many in the deaf and hard of hearing communities online discuss difficulties with masks and their need to read lips.  My own son has Auditory Processing Disorder, and I felt this struggle first hand. Sound was muffled, distorted … lost. Communication was given up on. Frustration was evident. What was he missing? It was difficult to make out what others were saying behind a mask, but it was important to keep masked and safe. What could I do? I created a mock up of a clear window mask just to see if I could, afterall, I had sewn hundreds of regular pleated and contour masks by that time, now over a thousand. So I did it!  I reached out to friends and Auditory Processing Disorder groups to share my lip reading mask idea and it got great reviews and support. It meant a lot to families and that’s what kept me sewing. Now I’m sewing every day to help teachers, therapists and families find and access masks that will help others access full communication. When we are masked, full communication for many is just plain lost or denied. Whether someone needs to lip read, see facial cues or see smiles, families, clients and students appreciate this style of lip reading communicator mask. It means a lot and is appreciated. I soon realized how helpful this style of mask could be to teachers and therapists who needed to show their lips and mouths to teach their clients and students specific articulation, for example. It is important to stay masked, but also not be hindered by the mask we choose to wear. Since it is a choice, why not choose to wear a lip reading mask to help? I custom sew all of the lip reader masks based on your fabric picks and approximate size. When you order a mask, please let me know which general size will work best for you. Typically saying gender and average, larger or smaller will do the trick. For kids, please let me know their age. On Etsy there is a drop down menu, but feel free to message or email if you have any questions. The masks I offer all have nose wire sewn between two layers of breathable cotton. I have a variety of fun fabrics to choose from including Baby Yoda, Disney, glow in the dark stars, animals, floral, prints and solids. The elastic ear straps now are adjustable with sliders for perfect fit. I can sew behind the head straps as needed. Before mailing I spray each window with anti-fog spray so they do not fog. I read wiping on and off a bit of Dawn, baby shampoo or shaving cream can defog too. For care, I recommend handwashing with a free and clear detergent and air drying the lip reading masks. The price of $20 per lip reading mask includes free shipping in the United States and is a suggested price, so that it is accessible to everyone who needs a clear mask. I do ship internationally for an extra $12. To order you can email me at LipReaderMask@gmail.com and I will share my latest fabrics!

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