Israeli team designs coronavirus mask for hearing impaired

University student with deaf parents teams up with a high school robotics team from Dimona to develop a 3-D printable see-through coronavirus protection mask so the hearing impaired can lip read.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The coronavirus pandemic presents extra challenges to those with disabilities, and an enterprising group of Israelis has devised a solution for those with hearing impairments who are used to reading lips not covered with protective face masks.

A doctoral student at Ben Gurion University whose parents are both deaf teamed up with a high school robotics team from Dimona and developed the “Read My Lips” mask that has a clear plastic front, allowing people to see the lips of those who are wearing it.

Carolina Tannenbaum-Baruchi, a doctoral student at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev School of Public Health, needed a mask that not only had clear plastic over the mouth, but one that doesn’t fog up when the person wearing it talks.

She teamed up the the “Roboactive #2096” team at the Zinman Darca High School in Dimona and within three weeks the students there developed the “Read My Lips” face mask.

“The coronavirus requires us to wear masks that cover our mouths. Consequently, hearing-impaired people can’t communicate using lip-reading,” the robot team tweeted. “With Ben Gurion University we’ve created a no-vapors mask which allows easy breathing and lip-reading.”

“Right now the mask costs us 15.5 shekels to make,” robot team mentor Maayan Levin said in a Kan Channel 11 report that featured the group on the national news. “We want to lower the price and especially to make it available to the hearing disabled population at cost price.”

Students on the team sourced the materials and came up with a design that can be printed on a 3-D printer.

The mask is reusable and can be washed and sterilized.

“We will soon start a crowd fundraiser in order to manufacture the mask in a factory and in large amounts. We hope that we could ship it abroad,” the team tweeted.

Those interested in ordering a mask or getting the plans to print their own can fill out an online form.