Since moving to Florida, a little more than a year ago, my plan was to enjoy retirement from nursing and being away from the cold weather of Wisconsin. Our daughter/son-in-law live here and that too was a motivator to come on down to enjoy the tropics and sunshine. All well and good, I was busy learning how to blend in as a new Floridian but the COVID virus got me as it has for the whole hearing loss population.
What a blast of cold air that was on our communications, our way of doing business, and our way of self-identification. I could no longer hear well, read lips, or congregate with others as I had once. The NEW RULES interfered with everything that I was trying to do and learn. How was I to follow anything if I could not understand anything?
For those whom I had forged good relationships with here in Sun City Center, I was able to seek out ideas that could help people with hearing loss. If the full-on masks did not work, then making windowed masks was the answer. I would ask for assistance in making them. I am a seamstress (hobby) and do own an old sewing machine. Asking for funding to underwrite this endeavor would help to make this work. Surprise, surprise, I received not one grant but TWO to help pay for this great act of kindness for our hard of hearing people, and their caregivers here in Sun City Center.
I put out a request for sewers, ordered materials online, and soon we were on our way to making these unique and valuable clear masks. Although they take some time to make, they came with love and understanding that they would allow the user to smile, to see each other’s mouth for talking and the elastic would circle the head instead of behind the ears. This saves the hearing aids and/or the implants from falling off the head when removing the mask. I needed to have a clear mask so that I would not lose my hearing aids. Everyone can now see me speak and smile at them as well as inquire about how they too can receive these unique masks. Too many times I almost lost my expensive hearing aids.
There are a number of ways to make these masks since the word has gotten out that the deaf and Hard of hearing need these masks as do other professional people, including Teachers, clinic workers, etc. There are videos, U-Tube instructions, and plenty of patterns online that are available to show you how to make these clear windowed masks. As you work on making these, you become adept at perfecting your technique and refine the masks as all seamstresses do in their profession. What makes this worthwhile are the smiles and thanks for being able to see lipreading and being able to hear with our instruments.
Heartfelt thanks to the Sun City Center Men’s Club and the Community Foundation of Tamp Bay for the sponsorship of the Clear Mask Campaign of Sun City Center