Since the pandemic started, what things do you miss? You may be thinking about the smiles, which have gone into hiding. But, what if we told you that transparent masks are already a reality? Its name: VisibleMask.

Clear masks have been designed to improve communication. With them you can read lips and identify many of the words. Also, the voice is heard better and having a conversation is not so laborious. Imagine how much you can contribute to improving the quality of life of people with hearing impairments or with communication or socialization difficulties.

  • It is a certified model according to the UNE0065: 2020 standard.
  • It has a 96% filtration capacity with excellent breathability.
  • It can be washed and used again.
  • It is recyclable and respects the planet.

You may not have known they exist. It is a fairly recent launch and currently, in each autonomous community and even in each city, there is a different situation regarding its use. For example, last October in Sabadell it was approved that the staff working in the customer service offices use them but we cannot ignore that the Department of Education of the Generalitat de Catalunya has warned that transparent masks are not approved for now.

And why does this happen? Basically, it is a legal matter. At the time this whole issue was legislated, the possibility of the existence of this type of mask was not taken into account. In this way, they were left in a strange legal limbo. A part of these masks have been certified according to current regulations, like any approved mask, but, given the legislative mess, it is impossible to be officially approved. What is evident is that many entities and associations are fighting to go one step further and achieve it. In any case, the last word is the Department of Health. From Claso, we will follow the evolution to keep you informed of any news. And meanwhile,

Have you heard of lip reading masks?

One of the most important problems that has been detected is that the masks prevent reading the lips. This greatly hinders the communication of deaf people and, in a way, is like taking a step back after all the advances to achieve the integration of this group, so it has been necessary to look for alternatives. The most effective: lip-reading masks, which do not put barriers between the people who wear them and their environment. But what do we know about these? What are the main questions they ask us about its use?

The lip-reading mask has undergone rapid evolution since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Before this moment, when it has become an element that the whole population must use, no one had taken into account the problem of masks for people who need lip reading. It was a residual problem. Therefore, many people began to devise alternatives to solve this problem in a totally amateur way.

The first lip-reading mask was created by Ashley Lawrence, a student of Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the University of Eastern Kentucky (United States). What made it different was its plastic strip, to be able to do lip reading correctly. The problem was that they did not protect enough and, moreover, they fogged up too easily.

After this first amateur design, we have worked hard to create a more efficient type of mask, both practical and protective. At this time, the concept of the plastic strip has already been overcome and we are already on the market with transparent fabric masks, with polyamide being the most widespread. With this material, they have already been able to create reusable masks for lip reading with a high level of protection, practicality and comfort. The case of VisibleMask is one of them.

In Spain there are a million and a half people with hearing disabilities, according to the INE, who know what it is to live with hearing aids in times of coronavirus. Some of them use sign language for their communication, but others need the support of lip reading.

3 questions about lip reading masks

Are they efficient?

Beyond the fact of their approval, lip reading masks are efficient as long as they meet the specifications of the UNE0065: 2020 standard that regulates reusable hygienic masks. We clarify that this case can only occur in masks made with fabric since those based on a plastic strip cannot be certified because the standard regulates fabrics but not plastics. On the other hand, the term "hygienic" must be emphasized since this type of mask is not considered a medical product or individual protection equipment.

How is the material of the masks?

On the one hand, the latest models based on transparent fabric are made of polyamide, a polymer material that can be found in nature, such as wool or silk, or created synthetically, as is the case with nylon. It is a lightweight, reusable and recyclable fabric. On the other hand, the vast majority of those based on a plastic strip use PVC but their main problem is that their real effectiveness cannot be measured as there is no standard to certify them.

So are they reusable?

Regulations require that all reusable and washable hygienic masks can last a minimum of five times. Therefore, they are reusable as long as they comply with the UNE0065: 2020 standard. In the case of transparent fabric masks, this number of washes is often far exceeded. Now, the exact number will always depend on the fabric with which they are made. For example, VisibleMask can reach 30 washes without losing their safety properties.

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We hope we have clarified some of the main unknowns you may have about lip reading masks. From this blog, we will continue to report all the progress and we will be happy to answer any other questions you may have about its use because if we want something, it is for you to continue listening as before COVID-19. And is that if we all prepare for the new normal, it would be normal that this new normal is also accessible to deaf people who need lip reading to communicate.