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Mom and daughter make clear face masks for the deaf and hard of hearing

As the demand for face masks continues, one family is making sure that the deaf can read lips with their own clear face masks.

BOISE, Idaho — The coronavirus pandemic has made wearing a face mask an essential and normal part of everyone's lives. However, cloth face masks make it more difficult for people who are deaf or hard of hearing that rely on reading lips to understand what someone is saying. To help make sure everyone can communicate, a Boise mother and daughter are making their own clear face masks.

Angela Hatfield and her daughter Mercy are now creating their own face masks after Hatfield was inspired to help after seeing what a college student in Kentucky created for the hearing impaired.

"When I saw these masks that have the window so that you could, here's one of them, you can actually talk through it and people could see your lips, I was like, 'Wow, let me see if I can make them happen,'" she said.

Hatfield and her 10-year-old daughter were already making face masks since they were members of the Treasure Valley Fabric Mask Sewing group on Facebook, they decided to tweak their designs. 

"I actually had the materials at home from another project I had worked on and somebody simply got it out and modified the mask we were making and was able to put together a mask with a window," Hatfield said.

The clear face masks are designed to have a clear window at the mouth, which is made out of heavy-duty shower curtain liner. The window allows people who are hard of hearing to better read lips and facial expressions, which they depend on to best communicate with others.

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"My family works in a Chick-fil-A actually," Hatfield said, "and they often have people who come through and the only way they can communicate is to read lips and obviously as we're all wearing these masks and they're losing the opportunity to be able to understand and see what we're saying as we're covering our mouths it's impossible for them to read lips so I loved the idea."

While she and her daughter haven't made many clear face masks yet, they said they're ready for whenever someone asks for one. Until then, Hatfield hopes to inspire others as the community inspired her.

"My 10-year-old had never sewn a thing before in her life and she just had a heart for people and wanting to be a part of this," she said. "It's really not complex to make these masks and it's helping so many in the community... I love being a part of this community and I love seeing these groups of women just come together and do great things."

The typical cloth mask takes the mother and daughter about six minutes to make while the clear ones take about ten minutes. If you want to help or have a question about the masks, Hatfield recommends people reach out to the Treasure Valley Fabric Mask Sewing group on Facebook.

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