New Surgical masks to Help Deaf Patients

Dr Anne McIntosh a Deaf woman from the USA, creates clear surgical masks to help Deaf patients.

In Sign Language it is not only our hands that are important. Facial expressions with the help of one’s eyes and mouth play an important role in delivering any information through sign language. Dr. Anne McIntosh, is a Deaf woman. She was pregnant. When she went into labor, she was taken to the hospital. At the hospital, she communicated with her Doctor and nurses through lipreading. After 25 hours she was still in labor and the doctor told her that cesarean delivery is needed. That is when the problem aroused.

In the operation theatre everyone including her husband was wearing full surgical gowns which included the mouth concealing masks. Anne was no longer able to lip read anyone. She could not communicate with the doctors and nurses. She then started feeling nervous and scared. She was scared about her understanding the questions and directions of time which might harm her baby or herself. She can’t forget the feeling of helplessness which she faced which could be easily avoided if she could read lips. She said she is a doctor who is a PhD but that day she was helpless and was unable to communicate with anyone. 

She wanted to find a way to avoid such situations for Deaf people. If there wasn’t a solution she was ready to create one.She did her research and found out that there were no approved clear surgical masks to help patients to see the doctor’s lips. So she decided to make one. After several years she created a product called the Communicator. It is a Clear Window Surgical Mask which is approved by the FDA. The mask has a clear window at the lip area so that people can see the lips from the see through window.  It does not fog, and can be used with patients in the operating room.”

 It was very difficult for because hospitals and medical establishments were set in their ways and are slow to change. She then met Alicia Booth of ‘Designated Interpreters’ an organisation that works in hospitals to provide American Sign Language interpretation to help doctors and patients communicate. When Alicia tried the mask she was so happy as it was very helpful. She faced many difficulties making these masks. She was determined to make the mask in USA and not in China, Now she is successfully selling the mask too many hospitals and helping the Deaf community.