The Tamil Nadu government will distribute 81,000 transparent masks for hearing and speech impaired persons, their parents, trainers, teachers and others to help them communicate by reading lips. The government said on Saturday that hearing and speech impaired persons communicate by reading the lips of others, and this was not possible with normal masks.
The Tamil Nadu Commissionerate for Welfare of Persons with Disabilities will be working on a pilot project to distribute 81,000 such masks to around 13,500 persons with disabilities, their families, caregivers, classmates and teachers, allowing them to continue communication while ensuring safety.
The masks will be distributed through welfare organisations for those living with disabilities located in various districts.
Based on feedback after the distribution of masks through this pilot project, further modifications will be made.
The state government is not the first to come up with these masks though.
Earlier, this month, Dr Mohammed Hakim, an MBBS doctor and emergency physician from Thuvarankurichi Tiruchirapalli, was also in the news for developing similar masks. Dr Hakim had reportedly pointed out that the usual facemasks, which cover the nose and lips have become a hurdle for hearing impaired persons to communicate.
With the masks designed by him, which have a transparent cover over the mouth while also covering the nose, will allow for persons with hearing impairment to still communicate by lip reading.
Apart from the transparent covering, the masks are like usual N95 masks, which filter 95% bacteria and particles. â€śThis is not made of latex, but made of eco-friendly transparent paper,â€ť a Press Information Bureau Chennai, release said.
As of May 11, these masks were pending approval by the Indian Council of Medical Research. He planned to distribute 1000 such masks with the help of social workers.
Another NGO was doing something similar, reported The Hindu. The Coimbatore-based organisation called No Food Waste has been reportedly trying to make masks which have a transparent material where the mouth is, and has already given some samples to organisations. It will make modifications based on feedback and start producing more such masks once it gets the governmentâ€™s approval.