Tamil Nadu government kicks off pilot project, makes masks for deaf & hard of hearing people
The Tamil Nadu state government has started a pilot project to make transparent face masks in order to make communication easier for people with hearing and speech impairment in the state. The government has tied up with face mask manufacturers. The work has been getting appreciations and good responses ever since the first distribution took place. To begin with, the distribution of masks was held at Namakkal district and was carried off by the state Social Welfare Minister.
Face masks have become an inevitable part of our lives in the battle against COVID-19. In fact, new trends and fashion in face masks are now becoming popular. They are widely being sold too. For people with speech and hearing impairment, these masks are not really a blessing. Most of them rely on lip-reading. Hence, face masks make it impossible for them to know what the other person is communicating. Tamil Nadu government has collaborated with mask-makers in the state to create transparent face masks which enables lip reading. The state’s disability rights groups cheer for this novel initiative taken up by the government.
An innovative face mask
The project was first started in Namakkal district. The state government plans to spread the venture to other parts of Tamil Nadu as well.
Johny Tom Varghese, Tamil Nadu State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities spoke to NewzHook about the latest venture.
It was initiated as an idea by the department of welfare of the differently-abled and then with the help of a manufacturer in Tirupur, 81,000 masks were distributed. It is piloted all across Tamil Nadu and we will take the feedback from beneficiaries to see what changes can be made- Johny Tom Varghese IAS.
The masks have a transparent polypropylene base which goes over the lip of the user. Most of the hearing and speech impaired people communicate and understand things through lip reading. So this transparent mask makes it easier for them to understand the message that the other person is trying to convey.
Masks have been distributed to many hearing and speech impaired people, their close friends and family members too.
TMN Deepak, Founder, 3 December Movement, an NGO that works towards empowering disabled people in Tamil Nadu says, “It is a good initiative on the accessibility front. A consulting process with deaf associations could have been done as suggestions would straighten the flip side of the accessible face masks”.
A successful pilot project
This is a pilot project. Hence, the state government along with mask makers are looking out for ways to make this project more unique and beneficial for the disabled community. For instance, they are looking out for issues like fogging that needs to be addressed for users of the masks. The next model of masks would be made in a better and more enhanced manner.
Tamil Nadu is the first state to introduce such a project for the hearing and speech impaired community. They have already received praise for it as well. Sharing pictures from the mask distribution event, Tirupur District Collector K Vijayakarthikeyan tweeted, “Specially Abled Children of #Tiruppur have started using the CLEAR MASK which enables Lip Reading !”,
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