French sisters design mask to allow lip-reading
A French start-up run by two sisters and a friend has designed a mask with a transparent window so people who are hearing-impaired can still lip-read.
The new Masque Inclusif is one of two such government approved masks in France and has a washable, anti-fog window that conforms to health standards.
The story behind the invention
Company founder Anissa Mekrabech, 30, a leather goods designer, came up with the idea from personal experience after suffering mild bilateral hearing loss since childhood. Once the mask rule came in, she found herself in shops, one metre away from cashiers who were behind a Plexiglas screen wearing a mask – and unable to hear well.
“I was a little lost,” she said. “I couldn’t hear well. I usually rely on lip-reading, which was impossible in this situation with masks.” She had seen a similar project in the US and launched the start-up ASA Initia in Toulouse with her sister Souad and friend Aïda Najjar. The mask is available from masqueinclusif.com.
A second company Odiora from Lyon is now also making lip-reading masks under the name ‘Masque sourire’. In France, seven million people are registered as having a hearing deficiency, with 182,000 of them considered severely deaf.