Transparent masks help deaf communicate in Indonesia

Jakarta, May 14 (efe-epa).- Transparent masks are the solution found by Indonesia’s Dwi Rahayu to help the deaf communicate by lip reading, without having to risk exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Dwi, who is deaf and used to work as a seamstress, told EFE that she realized the problems masks posed when she went to a hospital and had trouble communicating with doctors because she couldn’t read their lips.

“I went to medicate at the hospital, but the doctors did not want to remove their masks (to communicate),” she told EFE at the headquarters of the Indonesian Deaf Welfare Movement (GERKATIN) in Sleman, a regency in the Yogyakarta special administrative region of Java island.

The only way to communicate was by writing on paper.

“I had difficulty with it so then I had an idea to make a transparent mask,” added Dwi, who found on Facebook several designs that inspired her to make them using cotton fabric and transparent plastic so the lips were visible.

The first problem was that the plastic was too close to the mouth and would get fogged up while breathing.

“Because the design was not curved… it was still dewy when used. So I made a new design that is not sticking to the mouth,” added the entrepreneur, who produces about 12 masks a day along with her husband.

They provide the masks for free to GERKATIN members, and sell the rest for 15,000 rupiahs ($1), with orders coming in from different parts of Java as well as the islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi.

“My deaf friends are happy because it helps them communicate despite them wearing masks,” she said.

Dwi hoped doctors and nurses as well as the general public will also start putting on transparent masks to allow for easy communication, and that Indonesian authorities help them produce more.

“Right now, there’s no support from the government. We initiated this ourselves. Perhaps because they are unaware of these masks,” she said.

In Indonesia, more than 14,000 cases of COVID-19 have been detected so far, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths. EFE-EPA


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