Mumbai student Arnav Shah designs face masks for people with hearing impairments
Arnav Shah, a Class 11 student from Mumbai, has designed face masks that he says will help people who are deaf and hard of hearing communicate easily. Face masks are now mandatory after the Covid-19 outbreak but the ones commonly available are not inclusive.
Concerned about the communication challenges faced by people with hearing impairments, Mumbai student Arnav Shah has designed inclusive face masks. Called Naqab, these are reusable masks with a plastic cover over the mouth.
“I come from a family of doctors and my mom is a paediatric dentist”, says 16-year-old Arnav. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic all doctors have to wear N95 masks and protective suits. I started thinking about how scary all this would appear to the kids my mom treats. I suggested that she wears a plastic mask so kids can see her smile”.
That led Arnav to start thinking about the issues faced by the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Many people with hearing impairments rely on lip reading as well as Indian sign language to communicate. A plastic flap over the mouth would make it easier for them to understand what is being said. – Arnav Shah, Creator, Naqab masks
Final product after many experiments
Along with mom Reshma Shah, Arnav experimented on a few reusable masks that were at home. “We cut windows in them, replacing the opening with various plastics and checking to see how best the mask could be worn by someone already wearing a cochlear implant behind the ear”, says Reshma.
Fogging, coverage, itchiness due to the plastic, etc., were some of the factors they kept in mind as they improved on the design. The outcome was the Naqab mask.
Meemansa, an organisation which is into sustainable fashion and textile designer Priyanka Bapna are helping Arnav make the masks and promote them.
Masks made by daily wage workers
The masks are made by daily wage workers who are facing severe economic hardship after the lockdown as they now have no source of income. Arnav has created an Instagram page where people can book their orders. You can check out @naqab_2020 for updates.
Arnav is looking to raise money to provide these masks to organisations and people who need them. He has raised nearly two lakh rupees in a week. If you would like to help, click on this link.
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